Teachers sue govt over scarce skills

SHARE   |   Wednesday, 21 October 2020   |   By Bakang Tiro
DPSM Director Mosalakatane DPSM Director Mosalakatane

Aggrieved Botswana Sectors of Educators Trade Union (BOSETU) will in December battle it out again in court with government asking that Accounting & Business Studies teachers be paid scarce skills allowance.

BOSETU is suing both the Ministry of Basic Education (MoBE) and Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) demanding that Accounting & Business Studies teachers be rewarded.

At the centre of the storm and accused of disrespecting an earlier court order, is the Director of DPSM, Goitseone Mosalakatane and the Permanent Secretary (PS) in the MoBE, Bridget John. According to the union, the High Court has long ordered that government should pay the scarce skills allowance to teachers as far back as 2013 but DPSM is loath to implement the order by paying the stipend to beneficiaries.

BOSETU Secretary General, Tobokani Rari expressed discontent over the government contempt. According to him, both MoBE and DPSM are in contempt of the court order, hence BOSETU will be seeking fresh High Court intervention on the matter that will be heard on December 11, 2020. “The DPSM being the employer has been directed to pay scarce skills allowance to our members. The court has ordered in our favor and government is disrespecting that court order. We demand that teachers be paid or else we will keep government on its toes until they pay us,” he said.

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Rari has noted that government is hiding behind its wrong interpretation of the court order by saying that only teachers with AAT qualification should be reimbursed with special allowances. He said if the interpretation by employers can be anything to go by, a bulk of BOSETU affiliated teachers will be excluded in scarce skills allowance as majority of them hold diploma or degree.

In March 2014 former Director of DPSM, Carter Morupisi, issued a Savingram directing for all civil servants holding diploma in accounting and business studies to be paid scarce skills allowance. Public servants were paid scarce skills allowance effective 1st April 2012 with teachers omitted. BOSETU deputy president Mogomotsi Motshegwa expressed concern about the abuse government directs at teachers. He said the decision by government to disregard the court order resembles its reluctance to improve conditions of workers welfare, citing the absence of Public Service Bargaining Council (PSBC). “For such seemingly straight forward matters to be dragging before the courts is a sign of bad industrial relations between government and trade unions,” he said on scarce skills allowances.

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The unhappy Motshegwa could not hide his disappointment over President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi’s unfulfilled promise of resuscitating PSBC despite him declaring publicly to do so. “President Masisi publicly promised the unions that bargaining council will be up and running by September 2018. But, two years later there is no progress in reviving the bargaining council,” he fumed.

Appearing before parliament committee on Public Service and its Management, DPSM Director Mosalakatane, said they are keen to iron out the outstanding issues that involve teachers too. Mosalakatane informed the committee MPs that all matters that involve teachers and other public servants that are not yet resolved will be dealt with accordingly including that of PSBC. “DPSM is committed to resuscitate the PSCB as per president Masisi’s promise to unions. We are aware of teachers’ trade unions worries and we will act,” she said being cagey with details.

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MoBE PS John couldn’t be reached for comment as she did not answer calls to her mobile phone.