- BLLAHWU accuses ministry and DPSM of contradicting each other
- Says while ministry approved introduction of scarce skills for firefighters but DPSM
The Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) has rejected a proposal by the Botswana Land Board, Local Authorities and Health Workers Union (BLLAHWU) and the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development to categorise the firefighters’ cadre of degree and diploma holders as scare skills.
This is revealed in a progress report released by the union on conditions of service of government fire officers.
In the report, the union states that while the ministry supported their proposal and justified it, DPSM declined to implement it with the pretext that it was in the process of abolishing scarce skills. It says following introduction of scarce skills in 2008, it advocated for it to be extended to firefighters because it believed it was omitted as the government continued to hire expatriate specialists for the job.
According to its report, BLLAHWU requested introduction of scarce skills at a rate of 30 percent for degree holders and 15 percent for diploma holders. “The ministry agreed with our proposal and wrote to DPSM requesting for the introduction of scarce skills for the cadre,” says the report. “Despite all the justification made, DPSM rejected the request with the pretext that they are in the process of abolishing scarce skills.”
The Secretary General of BLLAHWU, Ketlhalefile Motshegwa, this week told The Botswana Gazette that they have realised that the government does not take issues of firefighters seriously because some of them go back five years. “There is a lot of contradiction between these two government entities,” Motshegwa said. “DPSM should have taken the justification of the ministry into consideration and introduced what was agreed.”
BLLAHWU has been at loggerheads with the ministry over a longer period of time for the ministry’s failure to convene a consultative meeting to discuss firefighters’ grievances and industrial relations. The union has also accused the ministry of not carrying out a long-promised strategy and transformation plan.
BLLAHWU leaders clashed with the Assistant Local Government Minister Mabuse Pule after he denied in Parliament that shortage of firefighting services affected all local councils. The union subsequently released a statement attacking his claim for being “economical with the truth.”
At the time of going to press, Assistant Minister Pule was yet to answer a Gazette questionnaire sent to him but had earlier claimed ignorance of the scarce skills issue. He said the concerns he was aware of included a call for a review of the Employment Act with regard to firefighters and restructuring of positions to close disparities between them.