Ahead of an urgent appeal next week, the leadership of public sector federation BOFEPUSU have criticised Industrial Court president Justice Tebogo Maruping for ordering feuding trade unions to go for mediation to resolve the dispute over admission to the public sector bargaining council (PSBC).
Clearly unhappy with the judgement federation general secretary Tobokani Rari said the decision has glaring errors and as much as they respect it, they differ with judge Maruping's findings. He said they should not be blamed for the protracted legal battle since they are just respondents in the matter who want the Court of Appeal to assist with interpretation of clauses of the constitution, which Maruping failed to do.
Rari accused Maruping of overlooking the provision for an Acting Jointly Arrangement in the PSBC constitution, and wrongly assuming that the name Bofepusu in the application for admission referred to the federation despite that the union lawyers repeatedly argued to the contrary. "Maruping's judgement seeks to alter the constitution of PSBC, and we differ with such interpretation. Maruping contradicts himself, even after finding that only individual trade unions should be admitted to PSBC and repeatedly accepting that Manual Workers Union are the only ones who qualify he goes further to order mediation as if nobody qualifies," said Rari.
Labour secretary of the federation, Johnson Motshwarakgole - the man frequently blamed for the fallout with BOPEU - was even more critical of the judgement which he almost labeled nonsensical. He stopped short of accusing Justice Maruping of abdicating when he asked rhetorically. "If a dispute is brought before court because the parties could not resolve issues without taking the legal route how then does judge Maruping order the parties to go back to mediation? Can a court seized with a marital dispute order a couple to go back home and talk when there is a clear disagreement? Maruping failed to make a proper judgment on what should happen next".
Motshwarakgole, who is manual workers union's national organising secretary, said it is surprising that the mediation ordered by court was never sought by the applicant-BOPEU. He accused the judge of making a case for BOPEU and throwing manual workers union out of the PSBC with the rest of trade unions that do not meet the threshold for admission in the bargaining council and ordering mediation, despite conceding in his judgement that they are the only one who qualify. "BOPEU and their lawyers conceded that they were never admitted separately (outside the acting jointly arrangement) into PSBC, hence their application under Botlhe Bargaining Forum. Where then does judge Maruping get the notion that BOPEU was ever admitted on its own into the council?" said an irate Motshwarakgole.