BOPEU sues BURS over intimidation

Burs employees on strike.PIC.KENNEDY RAMOKONE
Burs employees on strike.PIC.KENNEDY RAMOKONE

The Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) has once again taken Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) management to court over what the union alleges to be the intimidation of striking members.

Hundreds of BURS workers have been on strike for the past four weeks demanding salary adjustments. Processes at the revenue agency have since slowed with negotiations yet to yield a solution.  The union representing striking workers dragged the BURS to the Industrial Court on an urgent application yesterday, arguing that the BURS management is intimidating striking workers by sending out letters with demands.

The letters, which circulated in local media earlier this month read: “I confirm that I wish to voluntarily approach management with a view to return to work.  “I shall not be seen in any manner to be participating in a go-slow during working hours; I shall not interfere with the security of BURS facilities either electronically or others; the BURS General Conditions of Service shall continue to apply to me and I advise that I understand the above conditions and accept to be bound by them in full”.

The union said those who refused to sign the form were told they would be locked out of their offices.

Judge Tapiwa Marumo postponed the case to next week Tuesday for hearing to enable both parties to serve each other with replying affidavits. 

BOPEU secretary general, Topias Marenga told Mmegi that the labour body was unhappy that BURS management had “gone behind our backs” to engage workers.

He said the move was an act of bad faith and had been done to intimidate striking workers.

“We felt the management wanted to scare and exploit the workers by telling them to sign papers failing which they would be listed and locked out of their respective offices,” he said.

Marenga charged that BURS management had violated one of the strike rules relating to the intimidation, threatening or otherwise undermining employees’ right to participate in the strike.  The strike rules were agreed upon at the beginning of the industrial action last month.

More than 1,000 BURS workers downed tools on July 24 after the Industrial Court granted BOPEU permission to strike.

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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