Botswana Federation of Public, Parastatal and Private Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) has castigated Minister of Finance and Economic Development Kenneth Matambo over Public Service Bargaining Council (PSBC).
This comes after Matambo said this week that PSBC is a problem. The minister, who was responding to debate by Members of Parliament on the Budget Speech, said the PSBC is the one that hinders government from increasing public servants salaries. He told Parliament the route that is taken to address the issue of public servants’ salaries is not helping both the government and public servants. “If there was no PSBC, we would have increased salaries for public servants. As cabinet we would have decided to increase salaries and the public service could be preparing for the increase to be implemented effective April,” said Matambo. The minister also condemned MPs who have been calling for a 17 percent salary hike for public service workers.
He stated that this could have a negative impact on the government coffers given that government is currently operating on a deficit budget. “It is not that we do not value the public service. We value them more than any other stakeholder as government because of the input public servants make in the running of this government. We only differ on the extent of the increase,” he said.There would not be any increment for public servants in April this year. If anything, increment would come after May 2017 after High Court has handed down its ruling in a case in which BOFEPUSU wants a determination to be made regarding the scope of work for PSBC. Government and BOFEPUSU have not yet started negotiations for the 2016/17 salary increment.
The increment was expected to come into effect on the 1st of April 2017. BOFEPUSU Secretary General, Tobokani Rari hit back on Wednesday saying that Matambo’s remarks are reckless and unfortunate. He said Matambo is part of the very same Parliament which enacted the Public Service Act that caters for the PSBC. “This shows lack of respect for the PSBC by the minister. Everyone has to respect the PSBC because it is an industrial council established by law. This clearly also shows that the minister is only interested in serving the interest of those who have appointed him,” said Rari.
He stated that until laws are changed, PSBC is here to stay and everyone must respect it. He said PSBC is currently not functional because of government. “Government is the one making it difficult for PSBC to work properly. We suspect the aim is to legitimise the argument of PSBC’s ineffectiveness. When they came up with the Public Service Act they did not know that it would mean they would be partners and equals with employees at the negotiating table. This is why now they are trying to reverse such decision by amending labour laws. So Matambo’s statement is a careless one to have been made by a finance minister,” argued Rari.
Rari said the PSBC would only sit after the High Court decides on their case in May this year. “There would be no increment any time soon until the matter has been decided. We have notified our members about this development and they have given us the go ahead with the case to guard against the integrity of the PSBC. There will be an inflationary impact on public servants but they have told us that they are prepared to live with it for the interest of protecting the PSBC”.