• 2011 strike casualties get lease of life
• Decision veiled in secrecy-"we were not consulted," unions claim
Government is secretly re-employing some of the workers dismissed at the height of the 2011 public sector strike, which saw over 2000 public servants lose their jobs after refusing to return to work after they were declared essential services cadres, The Patriot on Sunday can reveal.
By the end of October 2015, the Ministry of Health (MoH) had already re-employed about 105 workers among them Cleaners, Hospital Orderlies and Drivers. Some of the re-employed workers, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said they received letters from MoH notifying them they had been re-employed and posted to a different work station from where they used to work. They all declined to be named for fear of being reprimanded. Some of the cleaners who had found employment in the offices of their trade unions have abandoned their posts to return to public service where they believe they have accumulated sufficient pension and other benefits during their years of service. Others, who are still on the 'waiting list', said they learned about the ongoing exercise from their former colleagues who have since returned to work. "Re a sotlega (We are suffering). We remain hopeful that we will be reinstated. I do not mind even if I am posted to Maun, all I wish for is to be able to enjoy my pension and severance benefits upon retirement," said a former cleaner at Princess Marina hospital, who survives on menial jobs and temporary employment under Ipelegeng scheme ever since she was terminated four years ago.
MoH officials had not responded to our questionnaire as they were said to be attending a leadership meeting outside the office at the time of going to print.
The administrative secretary of National Amalgamated Local and Central Government and Parastatal Workers Union (Manual Workers union), Samuel Molaodi, confirmed the on-going re-employment of Cleaners, Drivers and Hospital orderlies. He also confirmed that his union was invited to a meeting with officials from the Human Resource department of MoH two months ago where they were informed about the decision to re-employ some dismissed workers.
He however said they were not consulted before the decision was made. According to Molaodi government is ashamed to publicly announce the re-employment hence the decision to sideline the trade unions. He said, as such, they can only speculate that ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) government is trying to appease public servants who remain bitter about the 2011 expulsions. Trade unions and their public servants members complain that the Khama administrative is refusing to address their grievances. The first ever major decline in popular vote suffered by the BDP at the 2014 general elections has been partly attributed to the standoff between government and public servants. The same reason has been advanced to explain poor service delivery at government departments and local authorities. "We view the whole thing as an attempt by the (President Ian) Khama regime to discredit us (trade unions) in the face of our members. The strike, which led to dismissals, was planned and managed by trade unions and thereafter we tried on numerous occassions to plead with government to reverse the termination of the employees but they would not listen. We even succesfully challenged the decision to declare everybody who works in the MoH as Essential Service at the High court, but the decision was ovetturned on appeal," said Molaodi.
Asked if they have engaged the employer-Directorate on Public Service Management (DPSM), on the latest development, Molaodi said they have not because the re-employment process is ongoing. He would not say how the benefits of the re-employed workers will be calculated should they opt for retirement or "They made it clear that this is not reinstated but re-emploment. While we feel that some issues need to be addressed, we do not want to be seen to interfere with people being re-employed. We will address that after the completion of the process," he said.