The government is alleged to be secretly amending the Public Service Act to take away the right to bargain from unions.
Addressing members of the media recently, Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) Secretary General Tobokani Rari said as unions they got wind of the alleged amendments and that the amended bill is said to have already been presented to cabinet.
Rari said the amendments came about after trade unions (BOFEPUSU) declined to heed the call for consultation from government as they felt the rightful consultations have to be routed through the bargaining council. “We hear that it is being amended to deal with and contain the bargaining council,” said Rari. Adding that “They want to take the right to bargain from unions,” he said.
Adding on Rari’s statement BOFEPUSU Deputy Secretary General Ketllhalefile Motshegwa said that it was clear that government is disregarding set consultative structures. “ As it is there is no social dialogue between the employer and employees,” he said. According to Motshegwa because of this clearly prejudiced approach by government many provisions and policies that could be benefit citizen workers were now suffering. He cited the localisation policy which he said is still lagging behind. “We have come to a point where citizens should be occupying most of the post if not all in the public service,” he said.
According to Motshegwa the political leadership need to engage in more social dialogue and other engagements to address workers’ grievances, saying it is through engagements that issues can be addressed and a mutual understanding be reached and agreed on.
Meanwhile the BOFEPUSU Secretary General also accused the government of duping trade unions when making amendments in the Trade Dispute Act. According to Rari what is now reflected on the amendments to the act is not what was presented to them during consultations.
One of the burning issues in the trade dispute Act according to Rari is about the classification of certain cadres as essential services while in actual fact they are not. “ We will not allow government to use dictionary definition to classify essential services cadres, the ILO definition should apply,” he said.