Victory for military nurses

For the BDF, de-linking created a problem for the BDF as soldiers of lower ranks earned higher salaries than those of their supervisors
For the BDF, de-linking created a problem for the BDF as soldiers of lower ranks earned higher salaries than those of their supervisors

The Botswana Defence Force (BDF) has been instructed to pay its military nurses according to the payment structure enjoyed by their civilian counterparts. Justice Lot Moroka of the Francistown High Court recently declared the termination of the de-linking exercise that was meant to address the issue of payment through qualifications and not ranks unprocedural and unlawful.

In his judgment, Justice Moroka explained that terminating the exercise without giving the military nurses an opportunity to be heard was unlawful, therefore rendering it null and void. "The termination of the de-linking policy without giving the plaintiffs opportunity to be heard was procedurally wrong and therefore unlawful. The termination of the de-linking exercise is hereby declared null and void," he said. The judge also said that the 52 nurses who had taken the government to court following the termination of the policy were entitled to be remunerated as per their civilian counterparts who perform the same duties at the same level.

Justice Moroka stated that the termination of the delinking policy adversely altered the salary structure of army nurses in that their professional qualifications were in terms of the new salary structure no longer a consideration. “They had to join the queue and await their turn to be promoted alongside everybody else, qualification or no qualification. The relegation of qualification to the backseat is a material alteration of their salary entitlements and that is prejudicial,” he said. He further revealed that BDF once had a similar case with other nurses, which was about termination of de-linking and the matter was settled by the parties and a consent order was presented which Justice Tshegofatso Mogomotsi made the order of court. “The essence of that was to restore the army nurses therein to their de-linked salaries. One would have thought that given the fact that the termination of the de-linking policy affected all known and designated soldiers, the BDF would in light of court decisions in other cases in which it consented to court orders, take proactive steps and resolve the issues internally,” Moroka said. He stated that the de-linking structure meant that a registered nurse holding the rank of a private is paid much less than their counterpart in the public service and this dichotomy in progression between them despite the same qualifications created dissatisfaction among professionals employed by the BDF.

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