An attempt by Industrial court judge Justice Tebogo Maruping to broker peace between warring trade unions BOPEU and four other public sector unions under BOFEPUSU, by ordering the reconstitution of the public sector bargaining council, failed on Wednesday. A day after the judgment the two parties differed with BOFEPUSU rejecting the judgment and immediately filing an appeal, which ahd long been finalised in anticipation, while BOPEU was busy celebrating their win and prepared for mediation as suggested by court.
Justice Maruping ruled;
• that the PSBC verification report that confirmed that BOFEPUSU meets the threshold and as such should continue being admitted into the PSBC is set aside
• BOFEPUSU is not entitled to be admitted into the Public Service Bargaining Council.
• Only trade unions recognized by the government of Botswana on its capacity as the employer, are entitled to be admitted into the Public Service Bargaining Council.
• For the purposes of verification of whether or not a trade union party should continue to be admitted, the PSBC should take into consideration the individual membership figures of each union rather than as a collective.
• Resolutions No. 2 & 3 of 2016 have been set aside.
• The Public Service Bargaining Council is interdicted from proceeding with 2016/17 Salary and conditions of service negotiations pending the outcome of the mediation of this dispute by the Commissioner of Labour within 30 days hereof in accordance with paragraph 54 of the ruling and that the Commissioner is directed to mediate the dispute within 30 days.
• In view of the foregoing, BOFEPUSU and the four affiliate unions carefully considered the judgement with a view of mapping a way forward.
• In doing so particular attention was given to the fact that they are two available options, of either resorting to the mediation process as suggested by the court at paragraph 55 (8) or exercising our right to appeal.
BOPEU president Andrew Motsamai told journalists that the court case was a necessary evil to protect principle, whose outcome has given public sector unions an opportuntiy to reconcile and set out a new path going forward. He said his union is ready for mediation and have already come up with a position on how PSBC articles 6 and 7 could be ammended primarily to remove the ambiguity in the constitution and to accomodate other public sector trade unions who represent smaller numbers of workers. "We are born again. We have since discovered the folly of exclusion tactics we adopted with our comrades in the past. We want to correct that and accomodate other unions who have been excluded by the threshold to represetn their members in bargaining," said Motsamai.
But BOFEPUSU reject the judgment in its entirety. Secretary General for BOFEPUSU Tobokani Rari said a decision was arrived at that there are some fundamental points of law and fact that the industrial court overlooked and as such the four affiliates would appeal the judgement. He said the appeal papers have already been signed to be filed before the CoA. "Our view is that such misdirections are so grave that they cannot be left to pass without being challenged at the court of appeal," he said.