Govt appeals organisational rights case

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Government has appealed the decision of Justice Lot Moroka of the High Court, who ruled in 2013 that the 2011 termination of organisational rights civil service union members enjoyed, is unlawful.

The rights included the secondment of employees to union offices. Moroka declared government’s termination unlawful and set it aside saying there had been a clear violation of the principle of audi alteram partem or ‘hearing the other side too’.

Documents seen by Mmegi this week indicate that the Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) and the Attorney General are appealing the judgment in the case filed by the Botswana Land Board, Local Authorities and Health Workers’ Union (BLLAHWU), Botswana Sectors of Educators Union (BOSETU) and Botswana Teachers Union (BTU).

In the appeal, government hopes to revoke the secondment of Ketlhalefile Motshegwa (BLLAHWU secretary general), Tobokani Rari (BOSETU secretary general) and Ibo Kenosi (BTU secretary general).

The government claims that Moroka erred in not finding that consultation with the respondents “would not have been meaningful” and in addition, the High Court was precluded by Section 9 of the State Proceedings Act from granting a permanent interdict.

Government says that the High Court misdirected itself in ruling that an officer who is seconded to hold office in a trade union is entitled to publically speak or demonstrate for or against any politician or political party.

On behalf of the unions, Alec Freund and Mboki Chilisa argue that it is common cause that no prior notification was given to the unions of the contemplated withdrawal of the secondments.

“There had been no consultation at all on this issue. There is nothing to show what would have happened if such consultation had taken place,” the defence counsel writes.

“At the end of the day the fundamental point in the present case is that a sanction was imposed on the basis of alleged misconduct by three employees.

Neither they nor their unions were afforded any hearing, nor were they consulted on the contemplated decision.

“This was manifestly contrary to the principle of fairness on which the audi alteram partem principle is based.

It is accordingly submitted that the appellants’ objection to the decision of the court below on this ground should be rejected.”

The defence counsel wants the appeal dismissed with costs. A panel of Court of Appeal judges will hear the matter next Friday.

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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