Lobatse High Court ruled against President Ian Khama’s unilateral decisions on the working conditions of civil servants, saying the Bargaining Council is the sole decision maker recognised by the law
Justice Michael Leburu has ruled that President Ian Khama has no power to decide on the conditions of public service including salaries.
The Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) had approached the court seeking definition of the role of the Public Sector Bargaining Council (PSBC).
Leburu also ruled that any such action is tantamount to interference and it is unlawful for Khama to vary conditions of service for employees outside the laid down procedure of the PSBC.
Last year the federation applied for a High Court order to restrain Khama and the then Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) boss Carter Morupisi from making pronouncements on public service salary negotiations.
The federation also wanted the High Court to reverse government’s decision to increase public servants’ salaries by four percent.
This matter previously came before Leburu on certificate of urgency and was struck off the roll because the applicants had failed to prove urgency. But the Court of Appeal later ruled that the matter ought to have come for hearing sooner than it did.
Leburu had previously ruled that the four percent salary increase by the government would not stop BOFEPUSU from
bargaining for a higher increase or seek redress through a normal court process rather than on urgency.
During the re-hearing of the case, the union’s lawyer, Mboki Chilisa submitted that Clause 8.1.1 of the Procedures for Meetings and Negotiations (PMN) prohibits bypassing the negotiation procedures.
“Bypassing the negotiation procedure means making offers directly to the employees whose terms and conditions the Bargaining Council seeks to settle. Bypassing the negotiation process is a classical form of bad faith bargaining because it conveys the impression to the employees that they do not need the Bargaining Council in order to receive a favourable change to their terms and conditions of employment,” said Chilisa.
He also said Clause 8.3.1 and 8.3.2 of the PMN prohibit negotiating through the media. “Clause 8.3.1, in clear and unambiguous terms, prohibits the tabling of offers through media and making known the likely outcome of the negotiation process through the media. Clause 8.3.2 requires that if the parties wish to inform the general public of the progress being made in the negotiations they should make use of joint statements as opposed to issuing unilateral statements.”
Oarabile Mosikare: Mmegi