BOPEU expects small budget surplus


In anticipation of Minister Kenneth Matambo’s 2015/16 Budget speech next Monday, Botswana Public Employees Union BOPEU has published a deliberate, pre-emptive view of the speech, setting out key expectations and views on some budgetary and development issues affecting their members and the broad labour market.

The Union calls on government to explore, along with unions three-year wage agreements, rather than annual wage bargaining to guide salary adjustments.

“The method that we recommend is where salaries by agreement would be automatically adjusted by the immediate past year’s annual inflation rate plus productivity gains, if any, and a factor to capture market competitiveness of specific cadres. The rationale is that it would bring stability and predictability to the bargaining process, giving room for parties to start bargaining on non-wage issues and sectoral bargaining chambers,” says BOPEU.

The union fears cost implications for the Revised Conditions of Service for the public service could be used to discredit salary adjustments and genuine demands of workers regarding improvement in conditions of service.  “Our discomfort lies in how the new conditions came about, outside the bargaining process, yet making variations on matters which fall within the scope and purpose of collective bargaining.”

“BOPEU is also of the view that the budget should usher in a new policy approach that gives impetus to a revamped internship programme, geared towards youth employment.  More so the current internship programme has not been able to create sufficient decent jobs, we advocate for a two-pronged strategy for creating jobs primarily for young people,” the Union argues.

On work ethics, the Union is concerned that workers alone take the blame for declining labour productivity even though they are not in control of determinant factors.

“We also have strong reservations against a review of hiring and firing rules, which we read to mean a push towards deregulation of the labour market through casualisation. We welcome relationship building initiatives, so long as it means collective labour relations and not further individualisation of the employment relationship.

In the long term we advocate for government to develop a clear National Labour Relations Policy to institutionalise pluralism as a guiding philosophy and policy framework.”

Meanwhile, BOPEU will on February 6, host a budget breakfast discussion at Cresta Lodge in Gaborone. To create dialogue, the union has invited over 100 organisations across Botswana society.

These include government ministries (economic sector), parastatals, private sector, trade unions and Non Governmental Organistions, political parties, embassies, donor organisations, universities, research institutions and youth organisations. The theme of the day is ‘Workers’ Perspective to the Budget’.

“Through such open and critical discussion of the national budget we hope to promote and inculcate in our members and society, a culture of debate, dialogue and democratic participation in national policy and development process,” says BOPEU. The union expects the discussion to introduce a workers’ perspective to the budget discussion, with a deliberate bias towards employment and labour market issues and to accentuate the role of labour market issues and the social dimension in development policy.

The speakers will include UB academics Professors Happy Siphambe and Brothers Malema, BOPEU president Andrew Motsamai and Botswana Confederation of Commerce, Industry and Manpower (BOCCIM) president Lekwalo Mosienyane.

Editor's Comment
What about employees in private sector?

How can this be achieved when there already is little care about the working conditions of those within the private sector employ?For a long time, private sector employees have been neglected by their employers, not because they cannot do better to care for them, but because they take advantage of government's laxity when it comes to protecting and advocating for public sector employees, giving the cue to employers within the private sector...

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