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Unions push Gov’t on salary increase

Publishing Date : 06 March, 2018


Government’s insistence on a 3% salary hike riled representatives from the seven recognised public sector unions this week. The representatives who were hoping for a better increment left the Ministry of Health and Wellness headquarters disappointed after they failed to convince the Directorate on Public Service Management to offer an improved rise in pay.

The negotiations which began last week are no different from the ordinary employer-union talks and have all the hallmarks of turning into marathon negotiations. By close of business yesterday (Friday) the unions had directed DPSM director, Ruth Maphorisa and company “to engage their principals further on the matter and expect a ‘tangible’ answer by next Thursday (March 1st)”.

The recognized unions which attended the meeting are Trained and Allied Workers Union (TAWU), Botswana Nurses Union (BONU), Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) and Botswana Federation of Public Service Unions’ (BOFEPUSU) constituents.

This week’s meeting followed another from last week, and it was expected that after this one, the negotiations would be concluded. “The Union party submitted that it accepts the principle of salary increase, but that should not prejudice their labour rights as per their collective labour agreements. The house did not finish its business and the next meeting is scheduled for 20th February 2018. “We remain hopeful that such a meeting will bear desirable fruits,” Mogomotsi Motshegwa, BOFEPUSU Acting Secretary General had said after the first meeting.

According to sources who attended the two meetings the government is unwavering on its decision to offer only 3% as increment for public servants. “They are proposing 3% but looking at the current inflation we believe the percentage should be reasonable to meet the current cost of living in our society,” a source told this publication in an interview.

This week Motshegwa was tight lipped and could not confirm the development. “We are still going to meet with the employer next week and that is when I will be able to share more. But for now the proposed percentage from government is low.”
Meanwhile BOPEU’s Topias Marenga could also not divulge any information as he insisted that discussing the developments prior to next week’s meeting could compromise the ongoing talks.

Elsewhere sources say trade unions caucus and representation has reached a consensus of a 12% increase which averages 6.6% for public servants across board as they believe the government proposed percentage has been overtaken by events. “They gave us their proposal which we rejected because it is too little but they insisted on it saying there are no funds but we directed them to engage their principals further,” another source said. The unions want this to be averaged to 6.6% but the DPSM director flanked by her juniors would not let the unions have their way.

“I am not sure whether I can share with you because when we left we had not agreed anything concrete,” DPSM director Maphorisa said. She added further: “But it is true that we are still engaging each other and we have put before them our proposal and they have theirs but we are yet to agree on anything. We have a number of issues including the salary adjustment as the main and we are aware of the current ongoing consultancy on the remuneration.” Maphorisa said she was however optimistic that the meeting set for next week would be the last in deciding the increment figure.


Although salary increment was the main issue at the ongoing negotiations another hot potato issue which came up was overtime payment. According to sources, government, which has disclosed before that it planned on reducing overtime and scarce skills allowances, proposed an across board P500 as the standard payment for overtime.

Maphorisa confirmed that the meeting also discussed overtime payment but declined to expound on what was discussed. “Yes the overtime issue is one of those we are negotiating on and unfortunately I cannot share anything regarding that,” Maphorisa said.

For his part, Motshegwa said that he believed that overtime payment should never standardised. “From our side we believe it should not be standard as it will be a total exploitation and our argument is that overtime should vary according to the nature of the job. Right now you cannot be paying teachers doing extra-curricular activities like sports the same as someone whom their job is not demanding like that of a teacher,” Motshegwa said.

“A task team has been set to look at where we mostly spend much on overtime and how can we curb that and we do understand where the employer is coming from regarding overtime issue,” Marenga said. However the deliberations on the matter together with others bordering on conditions of services are expected to be influenced by the recommendations from the two consulting companies (PEMANDU engaged by DPSM and TSA BADIRI by BOFEPUSU) which are expected on the 1st of April.



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