Govt. plans to kill Bargaining Council

Nicholas Mokwena
Thursday, 05 October 2017

Government is busy working behind the scenes to de-register the Public Service Bargaining Council (PSBC), Botswana Guardian has learnt.

The decision is said to have been taken after council halted its operations following Botswana Federation of Public, Parastatal and Private Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) withdrew from it in May this year. BOFEPUSU operated in the council under Acting Jointly Agreement. The federation announced during its Special Congress held on May 6th 2017 that the BOFEPUSU AJA had terminated its membership at the PSBC. Following the congress, a letter was dispatched to the DPSM Director informing her that the BOFEPUSU AJA has since terminated its membership of the PSBC hence the public servants who are members of BOFEPUSU affiliated unions should be paid the 3 percent and the 4 percent.

Government is said to be planning to take advantage of the gazzeted amendment of the Public Service Act (PSA) to de-register the council. Following publication of the amendments of the PSA mid this year, Trade unions complained that the amendments are meant to undermine the PSBC. The PSBC was established by the PSA of 2008. 

Section 16 of the Bill empowers the President to interfere with administration of the Public Service. Section 31 (2) (a)-(c) of the Bill gives the Minister for Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration the power to decree 10 percent overtime allowance as has been bandied in the past by the employer. 

BOFEPUSU once labeled this as pure form of slavery wages meant to treat workers as commodities. The federation complained that Section 61 of the Bill usurped the power of the Bargaining Council to settle disputes or grievances of whatever form. Section 43 of the current Public Service Act bestows the power on the PSBC albeit sharing it with the Public Service Commission. Disputes between employees and the employer can be settled amicably by the PSBC or Sectoral Councils.

Section 72 and 74(4) of the Bill give power to the Directorate of Public Service Management and the Minister to appoint the Secretariat, Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson of PSBC respectively. 

Part XV of the proposed Bill provides for the collective bargaining in the Public Service as well as creates the clause covering the appointment of the secretary and location of the secretariat: 

The secretary of the council shall be appointed by the Permanent Secretary to the President from amongst employees of the Directorate of Public Service Management; The Directorate of Public Service Management shall act as the secretariat for the council. Clause 74 of the proposed Public Service Bill incorporates a provision restricting representatives of trade unions admitted to the Bargaining Council to Public officers.Currently the Constitution of P.S.B.C confers that power on the Council itself. Section 75 of the Bill gives the employer the power to unilaterally vary conditions of service and terms of service without input of PSBC or even workers.



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