University of Botswana workers through their unions are now taking management to court over refusal to pay the seven percent salary hike.
University of Botswana Academic and Senior Support Staff Union (UBASSSU), President Dr. Kaelo Molefhe revealed on Wednesday this week that since the management is not willing to listen to them, they have decided to explore other avenues. Dr. Molefhe told this publication that they met with their lawyers on Tuesday this week to discuss the matter.
“We have been patient with the management but nothing fruitful is happening. It appears that the ministry of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology could not release the funds when the court directed that unionised workers should also benefit from the seven percent salary increase because the UB management had not done its paperwork. So we are now left with no choice but to seek intervention of the court,” said Molefhe.
UB workers through their unions UBASSSU, University of Botswana Staff Union (UBSU), and the National Amalgamated Local, Central Government and Parastatal Workers Union petitioned the Vice Chancellor in October last year demanding the seven percent salary adjustment. In the petition, the workers also declared a motion of no confidence on management and demanded that disciplinary action be taken against some members of the management whom they say are dishonest in dealing with the workers.
The workers said that they ought to have benefited from the three and four percent salary hike that was awarded public officers in April 2016 and 2017 respectively. They demanded that Government Directives No. 4 of 2016 and No. 4 of 2017 should be ratified with immediate effect to pay UB employees the cumulative seven percent salary inflationary adjustment and that the UB Council should be asked to set aside the “fraudulently” approved Staff Grievances Policy and Procedures (SGPP).
Also, they are demanding that the deputy vice chancellor (Finance and Administration), Mendel Nlanda, director (Human Resources), Lucy Machiba, and deputy director (Legal Services), Goitsemang Taunyane should be charged for serious or gross misconduct and be summoned for disciplinary action promptly.
This week, Dr Molefhe explained that it seems the management is not barging. He said all they want is for the anomaly to be rectified. He indicated that the management has been giving an excuse that some of the staff at UB once got an increase of 35 percent leaving the institution financially constrained.
UB Director of Public Affairs Mhitshane Reetsang said that the institution is not refusing to pay the staff what is due to them. “The issue of paperwork being done and forwarded to the ministry I do not think is an issue. We have always indicated that the problem is the financial status of the university.
“It is not like we are ignoring the grievances, which is why we keep on updating them during staff meetings,” she said echoing last year’s sentiments by the Minister of Education, Research, Science and Technology, Dr Alfred Madigele when he told Parliament that the institution’s financial woes were self-inflicted among them being a unilateral decision by management to increase salaries by 35 percent.
“We have also told them that we are currently engaging government to see how best we could resolve the matter,” said Reetsang adding that the institution was not aware of the looming court action but would however not stand in the way of the workers to air their grievances.
“Our hope however, is that whilst they take that action they must understand that the university is not just folding its arms,” she said.