Following sluggish response by the Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) to start salary increment negotiations with Public sector unions, their leadership met with President Mokgweetsi Masisi on Wednesday to map the way forward.
The agreement between DPSM and the unions was that negotiations would start on November 29, 2018 to be completed in December 2018, but the meetings had not been held, hence their meeting with the President.
"President Masisi has been heard saying that public employees' salaries are currently being negotiated so we wanted to alert him that, that is not case and get his word on what is to be done," Botswana Federation of Public Private Parastatals Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) Secretary General Tobokani Rari said.
Rari acknowledged that President Masisi indeed showed commitment to ensuring that public workers salary increment is negotiated and finalized. However he pointed out that they are worried that his efforts are not matched by those of his officers.
"The negotiations were supposed to resume on December 18th last year, but DPSM kept on postponing, which is what basically delayed everything to this day. We acknowledge the president's commitment to the materialisation of the negotiations and its outcome but it should also be shown by the conduct of his officers," Rari said.
He, however, said they are optimistic that government will adjust public officers' salaries before the start of the new financial year as indicated by the president. He said although DPSM had indicated that they will only be able to meet with the unions on the week starting 28th January, the president has as requested by the unions told the officers to expedite the process.
"As it is we expect negotiations to start sooner," said Rari.
He also indicated that will be going into the negotiations as a bloc, comprising of six unions namely; Botswana Sectors of Educators Trade Union (BOSETU), Botswana Land Boards and Local Government Workers Union (BLLAWU), Botswana Teachers Union (BTU), Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU), National Amalgamated Central, Local & Parastatal Manual Workers' Union (NACL&PMWU) and Botswana Nurses Union (BONU). This, Rari said, is as required by DPSM.
He, however, could not be drawn into disclosing the increment percentage that the bloc will demand from government.
In his maiden State of The Nation Address last year Masisi announced that despite the legal challenge that unions have made to the salary bargaining process, his Government has proceeded to engage a consultant.
"I wish to inform this august House that Government has appointed a consultant (PEMANDU Associates SDN.BHD of Malaysia) to, among others, review the current Public Service remuneration system in terms of salaries, allowances and benefits. The consultancy work is expected to be concluded before the end of December this year. Once the PEMANDU report has been finalized, Government will engage Public Sector Unions on the recommendations thereto. I also wish to inform this august House that I have appointed a Commission led by Honourable Justice Monametsi Gaongalelwe to review the conditions of service for the Members of Parliament, Councilors, Ntlo Ya Dikgosi and the Judiciary. The Commission is expected to submit its recommendations in December this year. It is the wish of Government for any recommendations agreed upon to be budgeted for and effected on 1st April, 2019," he said.
Although DPSM had pledged to share the PEMANDU report with public sector unions by the end of December last year, this has not been possible as the consultant has reportedly not completed the assignment as yet.
"DPSM pledged to share with the Public Sector Unions the PEMANDU report by the end of December 2018. The Consultant has not completed the assignment as yet; therefore the report has not been availed to the Public Service Unions. Although the PEMANDU Report is expected to advise and guide the parties on key areas of negotiations we wish to assure the public that its non-availability will not stall salary negotiations. The public is assured that in the meantime, preparations for salary negotiations are ongoing," The DPSM Director Goitseone Mosalakatane wrote in a press statement this week.