Firemen employed by Civil Aviation Authority of Botswana (CAAB) are headed for a showdown with management after failing to resolve a protracted dispute caused by a salary restructuring process.
Aggrieved Firemen are unhappy over controversial new pay structure that was adopted in 2017 resulting in huge salary disparities between employees despite having similar qualifications. The new revised salary structure places the CEO at the top level seating on band 11 followed by some of the senior executive that includes of Legal Officers with firemen seating skilled category on band 2 (lower).
A letter seen by this publication written by Anthony Manenji of Manenji Attorneys on behalf of the aggrieved workers to the then CAAB CEO Puseletso Moshabesha, expressed concern that issues raised by his clients were ignored. The bigger issue which firemen want to be addressed is that of the gaps between salary bands as well as imbalance between the placements of Fireman related to that of Aviation Security assistant.
In a petition addressed to former minister of Transport and Communications, workers argued that problems that exist with the organisational CAAB structure is that salaries are not competitive. This according to the petition has led to some employees remaining with the government for better remuneration during the restructuring that led to CAAB coming with own pay model. "Inconsistencies of bands versus positions, for example principal officers are not on the same band and yet they are on the same level of the organizational structure while managers and directors are on the same bands," reads part of the petition to the minister by CAAB workers.
Moreover, some problems that are said to be resulting from delay of structure implementation consists of staff morale being very low, poor communication between management and staff. Aspect of poor communication between the management and workers is said to have led to lack of trust and poor relationship with the executive despite pending unresolved ideal issues.
Efforts to reach Modipe Chris Nkwe, Head of Public Affairs at Civil Aviation Authority of Botswana proved futile as his numbers were not available at the time of going to print while a Media engagement session scheduled for Friday afternoon was also cancelled at the eleventh hour. Numerous calls to the office were returned as Nkwe was said to be out of the office.
Meanwhile early in 2019, The Patriot on Sunday, intercepted an anonymous e-mail sent by CAAB staff to the then Minister of Transport and Communications, Dorcus Makgato, pleading with her to investigate allegations of mismanagement, abuse and favoritism perpetrated by some members of the Board of Directors of CAAB. In the anonymous e-mail to Makgato dated May 12, 2019 with a subject matter "Some CAAB Board members always on training and Bench-marking External Trips" the concerned CAAB employees complain that some CAAB board members were in Singapore on training for two weeks.
"Surprisingly, (the board member-name withheld) has been going to this familiarization training and project bench-marking so numerously ever since the time of Mark Samson. Was he not supposed to be hired with some expertise? This is just defrauding CAAB, which is already cash starved, in the form of per diem and sitting allowances. Not only that, this is a naturalised Motswana who always makes sure big jobs and consultancy works are awarded to companies owned by businessmen of Indian descent. Please minister look into these malpractices," reads part of the e-mail.
In August 2019, whistleblowers once again pointed out that mismanagement perpetrated by the CAAB Board was continuing unabated. At some point CAAB needed backup generators for air navigation equipment but were told there was no money. Ironically around the same time the Board was then travelling to Canada for an ICAO meeting in Montreal. The trip was to cost around P600 000 which could have been used for the backup generators.
It was also alleged that two ex-board members did not have their contracts renewed but they were also sent for a two week course in Singapore in May 2019. The numerous training courses attended by board members occur despite complaints by staff over lack of training in midst of being repeatedly told that there are no funds due budgetary constraints.
CAAB in the past has been swimming into financial crisis blamed on the new adopted salary structure, is considered to be more expensive leading to request of extra funds from ministry.