The University of Botswana Academic and Senior Support Staff Union (UBASSSU) and University of Botswana Staff Union (UBSU) with the National Amalgamated Local, Central Government & Parastatal Workers Union's solidarity, have declared a motion of no confidence on some members of the university management and want them brought to book ASAP. The three – Deputy Vice Chancellor (Finance and Administration), Director (Human Resources), and Deputy Director (Legal Services) – are accused by the three unions representing workers in the University of among others duplicitous and dishonest dealings against trade unions at the joint negotiating forum which lead to workers not receiving cumulative salary inflationary adjustment. In a strong worded petition, signed by ABASSU Chairperson Kaelo Molefhe, ABSU President Gadzhani Mhotsha and Simon Kgaoganang for the NALCGPWU and handed over to the university leadership on Thursday, the three unions state that recent developments suggest that management is failing to uphold their shared values, principles and collective labour agreements. “Disturbingly, a culture of dishonesty, deceitfulness and lies is surely institutionalising in the way Management engages us on the university’s people management business,” the petition read. According to the petition, following the assumption of office UBASSSU Executive met with the University Management team at the invitation of the Acting Vice chancellor, Professor Kgomotso Moahi, on 3rd March 2017 and thereafter with the University Council on 6th April 2017, where issues of concern to all parties were discussed, especially people management related ones which have plagued and hampered the fulfilment of UB’s mandate. It is in this meeting, they say, that they highlighted to Management of their new approach in dealing with them, underpinned by cooperative and cordial relations away from the adversarial interactions that had become the defining aspect of labour relations in UB over the previous five years since 2011.
To illustrate this the two unions state in the petition that in 2016 the Director of Public Service Management (DPSM) issued a Circular Savingram dated 30th May 2016 reinstating Directive No. 4 of 2016 on inflationary adjustment of salaries to certain Public Officer cadres, which had been suspended on 29th April, 2016. The said the directive offered a 3% salary adjustment and related allowances increase across the board. DPSM further issued Directive No.4 of 2017 which also offered Public Officers of certain cadres a 4% inflationary adjustment of salaries and allowances across the board. As it is the norm, a discussion on salary inflationary adjustment to ratify the directives ensued between UBASSSU - UBSU pact and Management. “We reached a common position with Management at the JNC meeting of 22nd August 2017 on the issue of 7% inflationary adjustment to UB salaries – that given the fact that such funds were not available (obviously as a result of lack of budgeting on the part of Management) that the matter be taken to the Human Resources Committee of Council (HRC) to seek advice and resolution before the matter could be subsequently tabled before Council for approval or lack thereof,” they say. The expectation, they say, was that Council following its 8th September 2017 meeting will use its power to contact relevant authorities with a view to source funding for the 7% inflationary adjustment to the UB salaries but were shocked to learn that the matter reached the 208th Council meeting just for noting (purporting that there was a deadlock between them and Management). “We consider the act of Management as lacking on the principle of good faith and fraudulent at its best. It was inaccurate and misleading for Management to inform Council that there was a deadlock between the Unions and Management,” they say. As such the union leadership state in the petition that management through the complicity of the three directors misrepresented their position - reached jointly at the JNC – at a higher decision making structure also citing decisions of the 208th Meeting of Council held on the 8th September 2017, specifically Decision No. 9 where it is reported that Council approved some Staff Grievances Policy and Procedures (SGPP). “We were shocked to learn that Council had taken a resolution to pass the said draft policy, Staff Grievances Policy and Procedures (SGPP), when the process of making amendments to the same is still anticipated,” read the petition.
In the petition the unions state that the misrepresentations occasioned by the University Management constitute a number of contractual breaches including: the representation of a false position to Council by Management purporting a deadlock with Unions over the desire for a 7% salary inflationary adjustment and the submission of the Draft Staff Grievances Policy and Procedures (SGPP) that has not been finalised/agreed upon by the negotiating parties for approval, and that the conduct of Management functionaries sitting at the JNC is a violation of one of the fundamental values of the University of Botswana, namely, ‘Professional and Ethical Standards’ which, inter alia, encompasses ethos like honesty. This they say is a gross violation of clause 3.5.4 of the University of Botswana Staff Disciplinary Regulations and Procedures (SDRP) and constitutes willful dishonesty which is a serious misconduct that warrants dismissal. “This conduct does not befit officers in leadership and management positions who are expected to adhere to the highest ethical standards and be above reproach. This therefore makes these officers ‘not fit and proper persons’ to occupy such high positions of leadership and management in the institution of higher learning such as the University of Botswana,”
The unions demand that: Government Directives No. 4 of 2016 and No. 4 of 2017 should be ratified with immediate effect to pay University of Botswana employees the cumulative 7% salary inflationary adjustment; Council should be asked to set aside the fraudulently approved Staff Grievances Policy and Procedures (SGPP); The Deputy Vice Chancellor (Finance and Administration), Mr. Mendel Nlanda, Director (Human Resources), Ms. Lucy M. Machiba, and Deputy Director (Legal Services), Ms. Goitsemang Taunyane should be charged for serious/gross misconduct and be summoned for disciplinary action promptly. They (unions) have given the university management seven (7) working days to comply with the demands and failure which they reserve the right to seek redress and justice elsewhere as they deem fit.