Govt, BOFEPUSU bargaining starts

SHARE   |   Monday, 26 September 2016   |   By Staff Writer

Thousands of public servants who belong to four trade unions affiliated to Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) are waiting with baited breath for the commencement of 2016/17 salary negotiations, which were suspended last year. Following the release of the results of the verification process by Public Sector Bargaining Council Secretariat on Wednesday – which confirmed that National Amalgamated Local, Central Government and Parastatal Workers Union (NALCGPWU) meet the threshold – the federation has proposed October 3 as the date to start negotiations. The verification process was ordered by the Court of Appeal and all trade unions were advised to apply to participate in the process. Although the other three trade unions under BOFEPUSU do not meet the over 25 000 threshold, they have been admitted to bargaining council under an Acting Jointly Arrangement (AJA) with NALCGPWU. Three CoA judges Justice Ian Kirby, Isaac Lesetedi and Monametsi Gaongalelwe recently ruled that the AJA is admissible to the bargaining council provided one of the trade unions under the arrangement meets the requisite one third threshold.

On the other hand, Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) – who challenged the legitimacy of the federation at PSBC in court after withdrawing from BOFEPUSU and the AJA – did not apply for verification and remain outside the bargaining council. The CoA judges had ruled that BOPEU ceased to be a member of PSBC when it pulled out of the AJA through which it had been admitted,  but emphasised that it could still be admitted through the Botlhe Bargaining Forum (BBF) application, provided one of the unions under the arrangement meet the threshold. Other constituents of BBF are BONU, TAWU and BOGOWU. BOFEPUSU Deputy Secretary General Ketlhalefile Motshegwa confirmed on Friday that they have received the results of the verification process, and have written to the secretariat to invite the employer to submit her proposal in readiness for negotiations to start on October 3. "At the time negotiation were suspended we had completed the preliminary processes. What remains is for government to submit a counter proposal to expedite negotiations. Conditions of service for workers are horrible. Our members are in a state of despair and hopelessness after their non-unionised colleagues were awarded 3 % salary increase as far back as April. The cost of living has escalated, rendering them the working poor," he said.

The federation held a special congress held in Palapye in June where members unanimously rejected the three (3 %) per cent salary increase for 2016/17 offered by government. It is expected that when negotiations get underway, BOFEPUSU will revisit the proposal they made on November 23, 2015 for a 13.5 % salary increase for 2016/17. The federation will also push for the increase of local per diem from the current P120 to around P600. BOFEPUSU also wants pension funds to be availed for use by members approaching retirement as deposit for mortgages to ease the financial burden on them when they retire.