Botswana Teachers Union (BTU) has won a landmark victory against their principal employer-Ministry of Education and Skills Development over the non-progression of Principal Education Officers II (PEOs). BTU took MOESD to high court after the implementation of Levels of Operations in 2013 which left PEOIIs in the lurch as school heads salary scale was pushed higher than theirs though they were their immediate supervisors.
High Court Judge Dr Zein Kebonang granted the 187 PEOs II an order entitling them to be paid higher than school heads because they are senior to them. BTU argued that after the implementation of LOO which pushed school heads from salary scale of D4 to D2 they expected government to be consistent with the past practice and upgrade PEOs to a higher scale. PEO II were left at D3 thus making their salary scale than those of their juniors who are school heads. Agreeing with BTU position, Judge Kebonang said that it was unreasonable and unlawful for the government to adjust salaries for school heads and exclude PEO II.
Addressing the media after the landmark victory, BTU Executive Secretary Simon Mapolelo said that judgment came at a right time when most of PEOs who are their members were now disgruntled and some resigned. “The court has affirmed our position that PEOs had legitimate expectation that since school heads’ salary scale were pushed high, their remuneration will also be pushed higher ,” said Mapolelo who said that PEOs are mostly former school heads and it doesn’t make sense to be paid less than their juniors.
Mapolelo revealed that currently the position of PEO II is dormant and most of the PEOs who have resigned were not replaced. He said that the case doesn’t give MOESD a good image as they cannot continue to run their ministry through the courts of law. Mapolole hit back at MOESD saying that most of their decisions are based on emotions rather than logic and textual. He said that they expect MOESD to follow court and have PEOII retained into the system.
The implementation of LOO came into effect in 2013 which stretched the progression of school heads at from colleges of education to primary schools. BTU President Johannes Tshukudu said that their relationship with the MOESD is on intensive care unit (ICU) and they are nursing it. The militant BTU President said that the current administration including its political head Dr Unity Dow is now reversing the achievement that the unions and ministry have achieved. “We used to have a forum whereby we discussed issues with the then Minsiter of Education Pelonomi Venson Moitoi and her Permanent Secretary Slyvia Muzila, now we have been told that it was unlawful,” said Tshukudu.
Regarding the pulling out from the LOO task force, Tshukudu said that they took the decision as it was in the best interest of their members. “The issue of job evaluation was never part of the terms for the negotiations thus we pulled out at the 11th hour,” said Tshukudu. They have been concern from Botswana Sector of Educators Trade Union (BOSETU) that BTU didn’t inform them before they pulled out from the task force; BTU President admitted that and said that they apologised to them. “We informed our colleagues at BOSETU but the decision reached them very late and we apologized to them,” said Tshukudu.