Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) won big on Monday when the industrial court ruled in their favour in a case in which they are challenging membership of BOFEPUSU at the public sector bargaining council.
As the leadership of the union took celebrations across town, with some declaring that they going to crush BOFEPUSU the biggest question on everybody's lips was - what does the decision mean for public servants? First, the 2016/17 salary negotiations which were scheduled to start last week will be suspended indefinitely. Secondly, the win is a hollow victory for the union as they may not make the threshold for admission to the bargaining council.
In view of the judgment, only NALCGPWU (Manual Workers Union) have the requisite membership to make the threshold for admission to PSBC while the rest of public sector trade unions do not.
Justice Tebogo Maruping dismissed all the arguments raised by BOFEPUSU and PSBC lawyers at the hearing of the case, saying he was persuaded by the BOPEU arguments.
BOPEU had filed an urgent application asking court to declare that the admission and continued presence of BOFEPUSU at the public sector bargaining council (PSBC) was unlawful. The union argued that PSBC constitution states that only trade unions which are recognised in the workplace, and represent public servants should be admitted to the bargaining council while BOFEPUSU is a federation which represents trade unions. Justice Maruping said whether BOFEPUSU is just a name given to the bargaining unit formed by the four public sector trade unions or a federation, it is wrong to have admitted them to the bargaining council.