Botswana: No Overtime for COVID-19 Workers

Government is headed for a fresh showdown with employees following the latter's decision to freeze overtime payments for the essential public servants who are engaged in COVID-19 fight.

The moratorium has been already imposed at the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development with Local Authorities directed to suspend overtime payments for workers. The decision to suspend overtime, designed to contain costs amid COVID-19, is anticipated to be done across all ministries whose employees are considered essential service providers, so as Suspending of overtime add to the woes of the public servants after government deferred 6% and 10% salary increments despite the protracted talks held by unions and employer before.

A copy of memo that that The Patriot on Sunday possess and written by Acting Deputy Council Secretary of Kgalagadi District Council informed employees about suspension of the overtime.

"This communique serves to inform you that the Ministry has directed all Local Authorities to suspend payments of overtime for all employees who are engaged in COVID-19 activities, while they are still seeking proper guidance on how to deal with overtime during this pandemic," part of memo dated 6 May read but workers were instructed to continue filing overtime at moment.

Secretary General of BLLAHWU Ketlhalefile Motshegwa, a union representing local government workers such as Social Workers expressed discontent for the decision taken by employer again.

Motshegwa hinted that the union was not consulted on the matter therefore it will challenge the unilateral decision that he said is clear slavery where employees work and not be paid dues.

"It is ruthless and barbaric to have employers who get employees to work and fail to pay them for work performed as overtime. This is seriously concerning as it is done by government who is supposed to be the role model employer and upholder of Labour laws and policies," he wailed.

The aggrieved unionist Motshegwa further elaborated that they will take the matter forward by following appropriate channels to ensure justice for workers against brutality by the employer.

"We will equally deal with the same tempo to deal with employers who want to ill-treat our employee's .As ruthless as they are to employees, we will also start to be ruthless with such employers and officials," Motshegwa said adding that government exploit using coronavirus.

Efforts to reach Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Eric Molale for clarity on the matter proved unsuccessful late on Friday afternoon as his mobile phone rang unattended.

The Minister of Finance and Economic Development Dr Thapelo Matsheka has since stated that P 8 billion budget has been refocused and channeled to Covid-19 but was also not available for comment on Friday as to clarify if part of withdrawn budget will also affect overtime payments.

Dr Matsheka on Wednesday during emergency parliament meeting noted that COVID-19 has disrupted government budget noting that lot of changes will be incurred during coronavirus.

Soldiers and Police are the public servants who already fell victim of coronavirus as they are expected to contribute portion of their salaries to COVID-19 Relief fund for six months period.

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