The Secretary General of Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU), Tobokani Rari has said that their affiliate member- BOPEU- did not inform them about the ongoing strike at the tax agency.
This comes after salary negotiations between Botswana Public Employee Union and Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) reached a deadlock last month.BOPEU has proposed an 11 percent increment while BURS stays unmoved at six percent. Rari said BOPEU only invited the affiliates of the federation to show support and solidarity with them. “They only wrote to every union but no official communication to us as the federation,” he said adding that even though they were not officially told about the strike they rally behind members of BOPEU. Rari was addressing a BOFEPUSU press conference.
Last week BOPEU agreed with employees to apply a go slow tactic following the elapse of 14 days strike. Meanwhile a letter in possession of BG News, which was addressed to Rari, dated 27th July 2015, reads, “Kindly be informed that the Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) is currently engaged in Strike action at the BURS. This followed the collapse of Salary and Allowances Adjustment, which reached a deadlock on July 02, 2015. The strike commenced on the 23rd July 2015.” The letter also informed the federation that they need their support.
“The matter went through mediation which failed to deliver results, leading to the issue of a certificate of failure to settle. The strike has been declared as legal and will be taking place on selected two days every week, indefinitely. Strike rules were agreed and the parties failed to agree on the minimum service, declaring it a full withdrawal of service strike,” states the letter.
Ever since BOPEU started their strike last month only two unions, Botswana Teachers Union (BTU) and Botswana Landboard and Local Authorities Health Workers Union (BLLAHWU) have issued solidarity messages. Reached for comment, BOPEU General Secretary, Topias Marenga said it was surprising that the federation is denying receiving an invitation from them. “We wrote the letter the same day we invited other unions for solidarity support. They chose not to respond to it,” he said adding that during this week they got an invitation from the federation to update them on the ongoing strike. “We are yet to meet as the leadership to see what we can do because the invitation has arrived at a time when we were currently engaged with other union duties. We have a workshop for all negotiators but we will see what to do about their invitation,” explained Marenga.
Last month BOPEU and National Amalgamated Central, Locasl and Parastatal Manual Workers Union (NACLPMWU) engaged in a bitter exchange of words regarding representing employees at BURS. BOPEU claimed that it is being given a fresh mandate to negotiate for the employees after they (employees) rejected a six percent increment agreed between NACLPMWU and BURS management. NACLPMWU refuted the utterances, saying that the six percent salary increase that was agreed was meant to cushion the BURS employees while awaiting the report on the salary structure exercise at BURS to be concluded. The salary structure is expected to be complete in October following a meeting last week on Friday between BURS management and NACLPMWU officials.