Disgruntled workers at Gaborone Private Hospital (GPH) have dragged their employer before court disputing the salary disparity gap and poor remuneration conditions that besiege them, on a case that has now been raging for a year with no resolution reached by two parties.
The GPH junior staff are up in arms over the salary disparities between the senior hospital staff who are mostly foreigners on a case that is still waiting for a hearing before the Industrial Court. Following failure to reach a settlement between the workers and employees, the workers referred a trade dispute to the Commissioner of Labour before filing it at the Industrial Court. Filed in terms of Section 6 (1) of the Trade Disputes Act and lodged on the 18th June 2018, the dispute has been filed in connection with salary adjustments, arrears and other allowances.
The workers demand that they be paid specialist allowance and its related arrears, accommodation allowance, overtime and night duty allowances all with their arrears as well. Failure to reach settlement letter from District Labour Office, indicates that there has been three mediation meeting held on the 7 July, 16 November and 14 December 2018 by the two parties. However, there has been no prospect of the settlement. “The applicant want to be paid allowances as they claim they are entitled to them with arrears while the respondent’s claim is that they will effect the payment of allowances with effect from January 2019 and cannot be able to pay arrears,” part of letter from the District Labour Office reads.
Although the allowances have been paid as agreed by the hospital, workers now want all the pending arrears to be paid. Represented by Nkwe Attorneys, junior staff argue that the huge salary disparity has been corrected through a correspondence pay rate from Life South Africa but, it has never been implemented. They point out that the proposed new pay structure that has been noticed had insisted better wages, however the hospital management dismissed it as a system error.
“There has been a new pay structure that was long made from Life South Africa on how we are supposed to be paid but management here in Botswana refuse to implement it. They tell us it just a mistake that ensued and that the proposal never existed,” said a source at GPH.
Moreover, the 127 workers that are affected by the disparity say they are being paid slave wages compared to their South African counterparts who enjoy better remuneration packages. This, they say is fraudulent as the payment policy benefits their South African counterparts while disadvantaging locals, an anomaly which management has failed to rectify. In addition, the workers complain that they are paid overtime in flat rate as opposed to utilising average overtime hours in terms of section 37 (1) of the Employment Act.
The matter will be presided over by Justice Anna Mathiba and the protesting workers are represented by Kemmonye Gaborapelwe of Nkwe Attorneys whilst Karen Phiri of Armstrong Attorneys represents GPH. The hearing has been set for 18th, 19th, 20th and 21st of November 2019.