On the 15th December 2017, Directorate of Public Service Management invited recognised Public Sector Unions for notification on Consultancy work for review of conditions of service of public servants, through Malaysian based Pemandu Consultants. The meeting was subsequently held on the 18th December 2017.
DPSM indicated at the meeting that, the work by the Consultants will be completed by 31st March 2018, and assurance was given to the effect that consequently there shall be negotiations with Trade Unions over salary and conditions of service. Trade Unions emphasised to the employer for the Consultancy work to be completed on time, as welfare of Public Servants has been neglected over a long period of time for most of them have become “the working poor”.
Trade Unions under BOFEPUSU engaged Tsabadiri Consultants to prepare a proposal for workers in preparation for negotiations with the employer, such work has been competed the report is ready, and only awaiting engagement with the employer.
Realising the delay in releasing of Pemandu Consultants report as promised, the Trade Unions wrote a letter to DPSM requesting to be given such a report and further alerted Government to budget for salary increment and improvement of Conditions of service for the coming financial year in preparation for negotiations. Up to now DPSM has not responded to correspondence by Trade Unions despite Government having standards for communication.
On the 3rd August 2018, DPSM invoked section 51 of the Public Service Act, and invited Recognised Trade Unions in Public Service for purpose of resuscitation of the Public Service Bargaining Council (P.S.B.C), and the first meeting convened on the 17th August 2018.
To that effect a Reference Committee representative of the Employer and Trade Unions was set up to decide on the Constitution of P.S.B.C and subsequent registration process.
Further a task team was set up for purpose of the actual drafting of the constitution, the task team is to report to Reference Committee who upon completion of their work, will cause for registration of the Council with Commissioner of Labour.
The resuscitation of P.S.B.C was intended to have been completed by 30th September 2018, but got delayed as the employer questioned the recognition status of the Trade Unions and everything then stalled.
Ultimately the Trade Unions took the matter with the Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration Honourable Nonofo Molefi on the 24th September 2018, who after hearing the issue promised to give feedback at a later meeting. The issues brought before him were to enable continuation of the process of resuscitation of the Council among them the fact that DPSM ‘s stance that the Unions are not recognised.
The Minister came back for feedback on the 10th October 2018 accompanied by the Minister of Employment Productivity and Skills Development Honourable Mabeo, and they couldn’t provide answers to matters put before them, but instead requested more time promising to give feedback through a letter.
On Tuesday 16th October 2018, Director of DPSM wrote a letter to Public Sector Unions indicating to them that they are not recognised. The Unions have responded back to DPSM Director clarifying to her that, they have fully complied and recognised, for they have been having a relationship with DPSM as the employer based on such Recognition Agreements. The Recognition Agreements are in terms of section 48 of Trade Unions and Employers Organisations Act and Section 35 of Trade Dispute Act, and that DPSM adopted those Recognition Agreements from previous employers after commencement of Public Service Act.
While having indicated that she doesn’t have recognition agreements with Public Sector Trade Unions, the employer on the same day of this position wrote to such Trade Unions inviting them for a meeting on Monday 22nd October 2018, to continue with process for resuscitation of the Council. The question that follows then, is how appropriate is it for Government to say they don’t recognise the Unions and at the same time expect them to participate in a process which strictly require participation by recognised entities.
Labour movement is highly troubled and worried by inconsistencies and blowing hot and cold act by the employer on important national matters.
It must be understood that Trade Unions are highly dedicated and committed to the process of resuscitation of P.S.B.C, as it is a structure beneficial to workers in enabling them to participate in decision making pertaining to their welfare and conditions of service. That is also significant for enhancement of industrial democracy. We can only plead with the Government through DPSM to be serious and objective in these national important matters for conditions of service of workers need to be urgently addressed.