As has become common practice Government officials have been cornered and threatened with lawsuits by BOFEPUSU trade union in an effort to force them to convene a bargaining fora to discuss conditions of service and salaries of civil servants. Trade unions previously represented by BOFEPUSU at the defunct Public Service Bargaining Council (PSBC) are threatening to drag the Director of Public Service Management Ruth Maphorisa to court if she fails to convene meetings for bargaining. Led by Johnson Motshwarakgole, the National Amalgamated Local and Central Government, Parastatal Workers Union (NALCGPWU) last week (September 08) cautioned Maphorisa to convene a meeting within 30 days failing which they will sue government for such refusal. Maphorisa's colleague at Attorney General's chambers Abraham Keetshabe has also been served with a notice confirming that the union will sue government at the expiration of 30 days, satisfying statutory requirement for legal proceedings against the state. Following the collapse of the PSBC, when the union party terminated its membership to allow their members to enjoy 2016/17 and 2017/18 salary increments, there has never been any bargaining between Government and her employees. NJICC has never met since the establishment of PSBC as negotiations affecting terms and conditions of public officers were conducted under the latter, where the union represented its members. Concerned over such vacuum NALCGPWU last month requested a special meeting of the NJICC to discuss the medical aid benefit of industrial class workers, their pension benefits and the 2018/19 wage increment. Government ignored the request. In the latest correspondence the union reminds Maphorisa that they have a Collective Bargaining Agreement, known as the memorandum of agreement, which establishes a national joint industrial co-ordinating committee (NJICC) responsible for negotiating terms and conditions of employment. "The NJICC has rules and a constitution, which regulates the convening of its meetings. Clause 7 requires that the parties meet on a quarterly basis and as often as necessary. In addition, a special meeting may be called within seven days at the request of either side. We have therefore been instructed to demand that DPSM convene a meeting of the NJICC within 30 days of receipt of this notice," wrote attorney Mboki Chilisa, representing the union. Should DPSM fail to convene the meeting, the union will approach the High Court to force government to comply with their demand, Chilisa warns.
BLLAHWU engages employer
Meanwhile Botswana Land boards, Local Authorities and Health Workers Union (BLLAHWU) has criticised the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development over reluctance to convene joint sector meetings, despite persistent requests by the union. The concern was raised at a sector meeting of 24 August 2017, after which the union demanded finalisation of a schedule of meetings for the rest of the year for certainty. Ministry management has ignored the request. BLLAHWU Secretary General Ketlhalefile Motshegwa complains that such uncertainty compromises social dialogue which could enhance harmonious labour relations, particularly on issues of employee welfare and conditions of service that remain unattended by the employer. Some of the pending issues include update on transfers backlog, particularly according to different categories of circumstances such as social or medical background. The union has sought clarification on the appropriate scheme of service used in the Administration cadre to clear the current confusion. For example, officers are first appointed using the 2006 scheme of service but later switch to 2005 schemes of services on progression. "Most of the administration personnel who have been in service for a long time cannot progress to higher positions because they do not have relevant qualifications. We advocate for a special dispensation to train such officers to empower them for progression to higher positions. Training will close the operational hierarchy vacuum where the next immediate junior officer to a senior at C1 is at a lowly B band," said Motshegwa, citing the example of officers who cannot progress from B2 to B1 salary scale because they do not have either Basic Administration Certificate or Certificate in Public Admin/human Resources. BLLAHWU, therefore, proposes that the issue be addressed as per Public Service Management Directive No: 6 of 2008 Ref: DP1/4 V (05 May 2008) whereby progression bars prescribed by the Schemes of Service for Artisans and Technicians are waived to allow them progression similar to the professional model. Other pending issues, which were presented to ministry management include that of employees owed salary arrears after late compliance to directive no. 3 of 2006, together with that of employees who are yet to be upgraded to C4 as per the directive. Issues of overtime and leave days is also pending. For almost six (6) years the Ministry has closed out BLLAHWU on the issue of training and welfare, which forms the basis of engagement envisaged in the Collective Labour Agreement the parties have entered into. Ministry management never convened Consultative meetings as expected, leading to unilateral decisions by management. "This goes against the spirit of harmonious labour relations in the epoch of collective bargaining. It is therefore urgent for management to engage with the Union for 2017/18 training plan. The discussion on Training Plan should also address the issue of reimbursement of self-trained officers, as well as granting of permission to study to officers who are not in the training plan," says Motshegwa. On other issues, BLLAHWU has called for the establishment of Job Effectiveness Descriptions that are agreeable between the parties. The union complains that in the absence of JEDs it is difficult to design Performance Development Plans in the workplace without clear job descriptions, and the system is open for manipulation of employees.
Other issues include;
• Update on separation of Department of Social Welfare and that of Community Development, and the subsequent appointment of Director (Social Welfare) and Director (Community Development). Cascading the demarcation at Districts Level.
• Update on addressing structural gaps to address hurdles to progression in the cadre structures.
• Update on harmonising interpretation and implementation of directives and savingrams in localities.
• Termination of scarce skill allowance for AAT Level 3 holders, contrary to DPSM savingram ref: DP 19/96/3 III (32).
• Plight of Recording cadre/ Council clerk
• Poor state of labour relations as a result of bad leadership at the Sub District of Good Hope
• Progression of fire officers, structural gaps, training
• Scarce skill allowance for Bye Law Officers, who perform prosecutorial duties
• Progression of Secretaries
• Scarce Skill allowance for Park Officers, Housing Officers/ Technicians
• Exclusion of Landfill Officers from dirty allowance