Revival of Bargaining Council stalls

Nicholas Mokwena - BG reporter
Tuesday, 22 January 2019
BOFEPUSU Deputy Secretary General Ketlhalefile Motshegwa. BOFEPUSU Deputy Secretary General Ketlhalefile Motshegwa.

The much anticipated resuscitation of Public Service Bargaining Council (PSBC) has hit a snag as the decision has been deffered. The resuscitation was to be done in September last year but this could not happen and the government through Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) was tangled in legal battle with public sector unions.

The legal suit by the unions came after the DPSM cancelled their (unions) recognition agreement to negotiate salary increment and Conditions of Service for public workers.  This week DPSM Director Goitseone Mosalakatane revealed that the resuscitation process has been deferred until conclusion of salary negotiations. She revealed that this has been agreed with the public sector unions that have recognition with the employer.  Mosalakatane stated that President Dr. Mokgweetsi Masisi had expressed the desire for the council to be functional by September 2018.

The underlying principle was that the PSBC should be functional, to be able to undertake salary negotiations for 2019/2020 before the budget circle closes, said the director. Botswana Federation of Public Private Parastatal Sectors Union (BOFEPUSU) Deputy Secretary General Ketlhalefile Motshegwa expressed concern that government has not shown seriousness in having the council functional.  He stated that the president, Dr. Masisi continues to utter statements to the effect that Government is willing to start negotiations and work well with trade unions, while it is clear that his administration is not committed to improving the welfare of workers, not prepared to establish labour institutions such as the PSBC.

“The Government must be serious and work well with trade unions, improve the welfare of workers. Trade unions are on the other hand committed to harmonious labour relations in the best interest of workers and industrial peace for political and economic prosperity of this country,” he said. In his State of the Nation Address in November last year Masisi reaffirmed Government’s commitment to the resuscitation of the PSBC to advance the interests of the public sector employees in a fair and transparent manner.  He explained that the PSBC is the most critical element in fostering good employee relations in the Public Service. 

According to the president it is therefore, imperative that Government and Unions as partners should ensure a resuscitation of this important platform if “we are to have a more effective and constructive engagement”. “Government started the process of engaging all Public Service Unions in August, 2018. Subsequently, a Technical Committee comprising representatives of the Unions and Government was established to operationalise the Council by collectively agreeing on a new Constitution.

“The Technical Committee has been engaged in the process of crafting the Constitution until recently when the process stalled as a result of demands by some unions that one union be excluded from the process alleging non-compliance with the requirements of the Public Service Act,” said Dr Masisi.  In 2017 BOFEPUSU pulled out of the PSBC arguing that the government of the day at the time under President Ian Khama, was disregarding the council and its functions. The federation informed the PSBC secretariat through a letter dated 2nd May 2017 and copied to then Director of DPSM Ruth Maphorisa.

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