Nurses union sue gov't over bargaining


Botswana Nurses Union (BONU) has filed an urgent application at the Industrial Court against government for failure to meet and address bargaining issues and security concerns of their members, especially nurses.

The application move was prompted by the director of Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM)’s refusal to meet with the union following a lawful request through a letter dated June 19, 2019. The union had in the letter indicated that it wanted to meet the director and discuss amongst others, bargaining and conditions nurses are subjected to in their line of duty.

According to the union’s notice of motion filed last week Wednesday DPSM director failed to meet with them despite having made a formal request for such meeting to take place.

“The matter should be treated as urgent. The purpose of the application is to get an order declaring that the conduct of the director in refusing or failing to honour statutory and contractual request for meeting to negotiate important conditions under which nurses work in Botswana,” reads the papers from attorney Tshiamo Rantao.

The union is seeking orders among them declaring that the director’s refusal/failure to meet with them be declared a breach of the statutory duty to bargain with the union as per the Trade Unions and Employers’ Organisations Act and the recognition agreement between the parties.

Further that the director be ordered to meet with the applicant within 7 days of the order. BONU president Obonolo Rahube’s founding affidavit is that given that the security of the union’s members continues to be an urgent issue, which the government continues to ignore, on June 19, 2019 they wrote a letter to the director of DPSM requesting that she delivered a written position in respect of the Task Team recommendations before June 21, 2019.

Rahube explained that the declared dispute among others that the government had to date failed to provide with efficient trained and professional security personnel at their workplaces, security cameras had not been installed at their workplaces and that security concerns for employees still persists while there is little action from the government part.

“We proposed the above concerns to be addressed and to date the director has not responded to the lawful request that was hand delivered,” he said. He pointed out that as it stands DPSM has employed about 12, 000 nurses and more than half of them are the union’s members. Hence failure to find a permanent solution to their security problem endangers the life, safety and health of the whole or part of the country’s population.

Rahube said the issues they raised for bargaining are quite clearly very important threaten the lives of union members on daily basis and that it was time they meet at the bargaining table.

“The conduct of the director in not responding to the lawful request for a meeting is frivolous. As it is to date we do not know why she has refused or failed to comply with the request.

As an official who not only signed the recognition agreement but who also enjoys to bargain in good faith with the union under section 48(4) of the TUEO Act, it is surprising for her to conduct herself in this manner,” said the union leader.

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