Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) has called on government to set up an Industrial Court of Appeal to handle labour disputes from the Industrial Court.
When appearing before the Committee on Labour and Home Affairs on Wednesday this week, BOFEPUSU President, Johannes Tshukudu, said currently labour issues appeals end up in ordinary courts due to the absence of the Industrial Court of Appeal.
“Currently all disputes that relate to labour are taken to Industrial Court, but we don’t have an Industrial Court of Appeal. Because the Industrial Court deals with issues of equity there are no technicalities when it comes to Industrial Court,” said Tshukudu, ruefully adding that it is unfortunate that these issues end up at ordinary courts.
Tshukudu said the Unions are of the belief that there is a need for Industrial Councils where the private sector unions could take their peculiar issues.
“We are aware that in Botswana there is a Public Service Commission, we appreciate those efforts, so we are saying there is a need to revamp the Public Service Bargaining Council and establish a similar arrangement for the private sector and the parastatals,” said Tshukudu, stressing that these workers have nowhere to take their labour issues to.
Tshukudu further stressed that the Union is concerned about labour productivity in the country, saying this is a problem that affects both the public and private sectors.
“This is also evident at how sometimes parliament conducts itself, sometimes parliament cannot sit because it cannot form a quorum, that boils down to productivity and work ethics,” noted Tshukudu, adding that this should be corrected as a matter of urgency.
BOFEPUSU, according to its President, is advocating for a living wage as opposed to the minimum wage.
“We understand that in the last parliament sessions, there was a motion brought to parliament that deals with minimum wage versus living wage, and to our surprise, the parliamentarians of the ruling party advocated for a minimum wage,” he said, adding that the Union believes no government employee should be earning less than P5, 000 per month.
Tshukudu said it is due to lower salaries that social ills are on the increase as people resort to other means to supplement meager wages given by the government and the private sector.
Meanwhile, BOFEPUSU Secretary-General, Tobokani Rari, expressed disappointment that after putting forward proposals to government to protect the workers during the Covid-19, such proposals never found their way into the State of Emergency Regulations.
He said as a result the State of Emergency has had adverse effects on the workers and Batswana in general.
These, he said, include salary cuts and job losses despite a clause in the regulations which prohibited retrenchments.