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Bofepusu is suffocating the workers

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We had to file a court case as we feel and still feel that the non-compliance of an admitted trade union at PSBC affects us unfavourably. We also make it very clear that we have a direct interest when it comes to the PSBC. Our right is current in that we are bound by the decisions taken by the PSBC and our right is in the future, in the event that we join the PSBC as a member. We need to also note that BOPEU is currently the only union that utilises the PSBC services, particularly the conflict resolution aspect of labour relations. This naturally makes us a direct interested party.
Our view remains that shall the PSBC continue in its current format, whatever decisions the PSBC may take shall be rendered null and void and reversible as they would have been taken by a body constituted against its own constitution. Our view remains that, allowing a non-compliant union to remain members of the PSBC will lead to anarchy as anybody can claim a seat as there will be no need to comply with the constitution.  This situation will effectively mean that there will be no need for a threshold. It must be pointed out that BOFEPUSU only learnt that they have not complied with the constitution of the PSBC when we served them with court papers. As to why and how a whole secretariat was not able to realise this anomaly; your guess is as good as ours.
It is also disturbing that the BOFEPUSU secretariat is clueless about what is required. This lack of coordination and the state of being clueless has resulted in non compliance. The secretariat of BOFEPUSU should have known that the membership of the PSBC is verified annually as per Article 8 of the constitution of the PSBC and that there are time frames that ought to be observed. It remains a mystery as to how a whole secretariat was not able to realise that it is a constitutional requirement to renew membership at the PSBC. BOFEPUSU has blundered and it must appreciate that so as to move forward. BOFEPUSU must desist from making BOPEU a scape goat. This attitude presents BOFEPUSU as a battered past time.
As it is now, the membership of the admitted Manual Workers Union has lapsed so there is no union party at the Bargaining Council to which the hopes of the public service in terms of collective bargaining have been directed as per Justice Motswagole’s judgment. There is a developing tendency on the part of BOFEPUSU to shift blame to BOPEU whenever they encounter a problem they are unable to solve.  It is not our problem that BOFEPUSU is on a pilot mode.  The truth is that there is no PSBC because Manual Workers Union did not renew its membership. It is a simple matter of annual renewal which was not done and this effectively renders Manual Workers Union a non member of the PSBC and hence collapsing PSBC. The court did not refute the position of BOPEU that BOFEPUSU is an illegal member of the PSBC as it had not complied with the PSBC constitution. This effectively confirms our strong held view and position.
We do understand the frustration of the workers that is being unfortunately directed at BOPEU. We have observed and noted the various communication channels where the public have bought into the propaganda that we are the ones delaying the salary increment. That is hogwash. The facts are plain and bare. PSBC is not convening because on non-compliance. PSBC has written to Manual Workers Union to show cause why action should not be taken against them for violating the constitution of the PSBC. PSBC is waiting for Manual Workers Union to respond. We state on record that we do not see the PSBC convening anytime soon. This is our problem; this has always been our problem. We have told BOFEPUSU at the very beginning of the 3% matter that it is our strong view that we should accept the inflation adjustment offered by government and continue to negotiate salary increment at the PSBC as we do not know how long the negotiations will take. We have often used the word ‘bonus’. We have said to BOFEPUSU that we should just treat the 3% as a bonus and hence accept it and continue with the salary negotiations as per the legal requirements. It has been a year since the 3% inflation adjustment and PSBC has still not convened. And we must reiterate that it is becoming increasingly clear that PSBC will not convene any time soon and this sadly makes life difficult for public employees.
We painfully feel for members of trade unions who have been denied the 3% increase. We feel for our members who all attempts are being tried to deny them a further 4% increase. We continue to advise BOFEPUSU that it is wise to accept the 3% plus 4% which effectively is 7% and continue negotiating than denying workers an increase that they so badly need. Experience has taught us that this mater will take a long time to conclude and throughout that period, it is not the leadership of BOFEPUSU but rather the workers who will be struggling to pay for basic amenities. We still see no sense in refusing this adjustment as an interim scenario. The workers need every single thebe available, the situation is dire and very bad.
We have further noted the influx of public employees into the membership of BOPEU from other unions. Though we are supposed to be celebrating this growth, we also are aware that this is a result of the never ending court battles by BOFEPUSU which by the way have not brought about anything tangible. This influx is a justification that public officers are not happy at the decision of BOFEPUSU to deny them an increase through the many court cases that rather consume so much monies. The very initial judgment where BOFEPUSU was applying for interdiction against the 3%, the court had suggested to BOFEPUSU to seek mandate from their members and accept the 3% whilst continuing to negotiate salary increment with the employer. BOFEPUSU refused this advised, BOFEPUSU did not even have the mandate from its members to reject the 3%. This was a decision made by a select few in the name of leadership. We hear the cries of frustration, some of those cries manifest into misguided bile against BOPEU. We are a union that feels these pains and we stand with all those affected regardless of them not being our members. But we remind the public employees that the PSBC will take too long to complete its business.
We also observe the commentaries and note that there is some form of political posturing on this matter with some politicians taking advantage of the situation to revamp their lost relevance. Though political support is needed in trade unionism, it is equally a misguided support. We plead with politicians to let trade unionist handle labour matters so that we don’t unnecessarily compromise and complicate relationships.
Yours in Struggle,
Cde. Topias Marenga
General Secretary – BOPEU
communications@bopeu.org.bw / bopeumediareach@gmail.com

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