Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) could face a backlash from employees through court action if the union forges ahead with salary cuts.
A fortnight ago the union employees were informed that the union of choice as BOPEU is affectionately known, is going through financial difficulties. It was announced at the meeting that this therefore forces the union to reverse its decision of last year of implementing a new pay structure. In 2017, BOPEU restructured the organisational chart and introduced a new one in which a new pay structure was introduced effective beginning of November. The new structure followed the engagement of a consultant to carry out an audit.
Now employees are up in arms and have dared the employer to go back on the decision eight (8) months later. The reversal is expected to be effective this month but letters which were to be given to the employees have not been availed. BOPEU has branches in Palapye, Francistown, Maun, Kang, Head office and BOPEU College. Information gathered by Botswana Guardian suggests that the employees have already identified a lawyer who will take up the matter.
“While we engage the lawyer we would at the same time engage in a go-slow. We do not understand why the employer would want to change now after eight months. What is interesting is that prior to implementing the new structure, they had engaged a consultant who looked at all the factors to be considered. Our expectation is that financial statements were looked into and projections taken into consideration and how BOPEU has been performing financially,” said a source at head office.
The union leadership is said to have implemented the pay structure in November last year before implementing the organisational structure which was only done early this year. It has since emerged that the National Executive Committee had given a go ahead for the implementation of the organisational structure and not the pay structure.
Information gathered is that some branches have made their presentation to the management querying the pending reversal. Only the head office is yet to make its case heard after they met last week Friday.
“It would be suicidal for the employer to do that. Legally it is unheard of to cut salaries. What we have noticed is that the management is trying to employ a divide and rule tactic among us as they say this is consultation but we understand they want to implement this month (July). We are currently waiting for letters of notification for the implementation. Initially we were to be given the letters before going for the long holidays.
“As to what is delaying them to usher the letters has not been communicated to us. We understand a letter has been written to General Secretary Topias Marenga by President Masego Mogwera and First Deputy President, Martin Gabobake to have the salary changes reversed. But this is despite the fact that they are also the ones that authorised for the implementation of the new structure,” said a source.
It is alleged that increments are ridiculous under the new structure. As people were being moved to other