Workers lose another battle with govt

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Essential Service Employees (ESEs) who actively participated in the historic civil service strike of 2011 suffered another drawback yesterday when the Court of Appeal sitting in Gaborone ruled against them.This is the second defeat within a week the workers have suffered before the Court of Appeal which last week upheld an earlier finding of the Industrial Court that ECE participation in the strike was unlawful.

Delivering a 100-page judgment, Court of Appeal Judge President Ian Kirby said the process adopted by the Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM), and the dismissals in all circumstances had been fair and in compliance with rules of natural justice. This appeal centred around the applicability of the audi alteram partem rule ("hear the alternative party too") in a strike situation, the special case of ESEs and the rule of law. Justice Kirby observed that strikes are not a common occurrence in Botswana. "We have no 'strike season', and violence and destruction to property during industrial action is almost unknown," he said.

"Generally industrial relations are good, with mutually acceptable salary increases being sensibly negotiated from time to time, both in the private sector and the public sector." "This was expected in a country that had enjoyed peace and stability for more than 45 years since independence," he noted.He added that the public service, which was the backbone of the administration, enjoyed a well-earned reputation for diligence and discipline, which was difficult to match in the region."Botswana is also a country in which the rule of law is universally respected," the judge continued. "Court orders are to be obeyed, promptly and without debate, as every Motswana knows.

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