Audiotapes: A case against unions

Government lawyers repressing the Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) chief on Tuesday said they are ready to produce audio clips of union leaders making political statements.

The lawyers from the Attorney General’s Chambers who so far have produced newspaper articles as evidence told Justice Lot Moroka that time permitting, “we will produce confirmatory evidence,” said Oteng Thamuku. However she suggested that public sector trade unions rushed to the courts before exhausting all channels to have the matter resolved amicably. Trade Unions approached the High Court in Lobatse seeking an interdict of a recent decision by DPSM boss Carter Morupisi to cease the secondment of unions’ secretary-generals. Trade unions want the matter to be heard on urgency basis.

It was heard on Tuesday where Mboki Chilisa representing the five unions under the Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) argued that DPSM had a duty to consult the unions before taking the decision. “The DPSM did not issue notice of the proposed cessation of secondment….It follows that the DPSM’ decision is in breach of the requirements of natural justice and on that account alone the decision is unlawful,” he said. However Thamuku from the Attorney General’s Chambers-fighting on Morupisi’s corner-argued that unions were long warned against making political statements. She further noted that the employer partially consulted union leaders on the matter during a May 15th 2013 meeting held at Tlotlo Conference Centre between employer and unions where the issue of union participation in politics was discussed.

According to Thamuku there was another meeting scheduled for 12 September 2013 and should the meeting have gone ahead the matter could have been solved amicably. She argued that unions approached the courts prematurely. “The respondents submit that consultations were ongoing and further contend that given the circumstances of the current case, to give the applicants an opportunity to make an input would not have been meaningful.” Before other consultative meetings could take place, Ketlhalefile Motshegwa, Ibo Nana Kenosi and Tobokani Rari intensified their partisan political campaign by consistently uttering political statements in both print and electronic media, reads part of the heads of arguments from the AGs. But Chilisa quashed Thamuku’s submission saying it is full of contradictions. He chided DPSM’ argument that the unions came to court prematurely yet the same DPSM says there was no need to consult because political statements were being made.

Chilisa accused DPSM of acting like a boy in a football match who takes the ball away after being kicked. “Partial consultation is not good enough,” argued Chilisa, further stating that statements made far away from the meeting table cannot deter the parties from meeting. Earlier on Chilisa had questioned the newspaper evidence presented before the court saying newspapers exaggerate things.

The attorney noted that his clients never engaged in any politics and that there is no evidence that his clients breached any section of the Public Service Act as suggested by Morupisi. 

Last modified on Friday, 20 September 2013 14:18

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