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Christmas Message 2016

BOSETU President Cde Kwenasebele Modukanele
BOSETU President Cde
Kwenasebele Modukanele
BOSETU has seen a relatively poor year in 2016 especially in the area of industrial relations. However there have been successes in other areas to include the subsidiaries and the investment front.

 

 

Industrial relations

The year closes on the essential services issue now being enacted as law. What being an essential service entails that which is of note is that we are not allowed to take the industrial action or strike option in the education sector. All public service employees in this sector are included as essential including cleaners and grounds people. 

Now that this amendment  to the Trade Disputes Act has gone through, changes on the basis of aligning related acts like the Trade Unions and Employers Organizations Act are necessary. 

The proposed changes to the Public Service Act  No 30(2008) will further erode the independence and effectiveness of the Public Service Bargaining Council(PSBC). The PSBC Secretariat will no longer be impartial as the people employed to work here will be employees of the Department of Public Service Management(DPSM) appointed by the Director DPSM. 

It is also probable to assume that the Botswana Examinations  Council Act will pass parliament once it is tabled again with all proposed amendments  in this coming year. The amendments seek to reverse the judgement that duties like the setting,invigilation and marking of national examinations is the work of BEC and not teachers who are employees of DPSM. 

The industrial relations situation is rather unhealthy and untidy. It is totally shaped by the courts because the employer/employee parties are unable to agree on the interpretation of a lot of things some of which are very basic. As usual the issue of the negotiations for conditions of service and salaries has remained behind but this time with a twist. Government has divided the work force deliberately by awarding a unilateral salary increase to those not represented in the Public Service Bargaining Council either because of choice by not being unionized or those who do not qualify by the numbers. 

Member outreach 

Going to the union member through out the country continues to be a challenge in execution. In 2016 we have covered more ground and scope. The training of local leadership like Branch chairpersons and Regional Secretaries has covered the North( Francistown) , Northwest (Maun) and West (Kang) operational areas. Only the Central(Palapye) region remains to be covered. Only one training of the Shopstewards has taken place in the Southern region. This year's chapter of the BOSETU open day took place in Masunga. Though this was not hugely successful, it has not dampened spirits to hold similar events in future. We are informed the next possible Open Day should be in the North West of the country in the Okavango region.

The Pre and primary and Tertiary Sectors  orientation workshops continue and the circuit of the country has eventually been achieved. Specifics to the Brigades are the ones still in the offing. Smaller groups like the Disabled have also been reached and pulled onto the bandwagon. This is a unique group of people with very different and difficult challenges in the work place. 

They are necessary to include in the democratic space of industrial relations and people education. Similarly the tolerance necessary to the LGBTQII  persona among our clients and membership. This is a group very little understood but which exists and we have to learn to live with especially the clients whom we serve who are still in a delicate level of growth. We must be able to make them realize they are a part of the human family and deserve as much right to exist as every body else

A still challenged group is the women. From the last Congress in 2014 we now have reducing numbers of women representation in the union leadership. Women are being empowered by the Gender desk, but they need more wake up calls to become better operational especially to international standards. They really need to improve their position without much affirmative action. 

The union held a successful Annual Conference and the Funeral Scheme(BOFUS) an even better  Annual General Meeting. At least there were accolades of a job well done from those who normally do the checking and balancing. 

Member Benefits

The union continues to try to alleviate the increasing economic hardship visited on its membership. This year there have been improvements to some of the benefits from subsidiaries like the Funeral Scheme(BOFUS) and the lending and merchandising (PEUBO) divisions. BOFUS has come into an underwriting relationship Liberty. This relationship is made necessary by legal requirements and the scheme found it necessary to comply. The underwriting also comes with an improved service which has added another option to the usual Platinum, Gold and Silver options; Diamond.

The PEUBO loaning division has improved its services by increasing the lending ceiling and reducing interest rates quite substantially. The merchandising division has deployed a field officer to visit different parts of the country bringing merchandise directly to the union membership.  This does not mean that regional offices do not have different types of goods. A new pricing policy allows the merchandise to be priced the same no matter it's outlet.

The Legal Services contract with Mosele terminated in the last quarter of 2016. This service is now provided by Mosireletsi LegalServices. As is the norm, Mosireletsi came on board after they were awarded this privilege when judged to be the most beneficial to provide this service from a group of those who had heeded the call of parties interested in providing this service. Their service has added benefits like road side assistance and a funeral benefit for the member of the scheme.

Loans increased from 20 to 50 at reduced interest and a pricing policy guided merchandise pricing. Means prices are the same for products throughout the country. Now we have a sales representative who travels around the country selling union products.

Emerging Issues

The Ministry of Education and Skills a Development has been fragmented into two new moinistries and a division or part has been taken to another totally alien ministry. This was done to make the system more efficient. There is a ministry of Basic Education and then something dealing tertiary and research and other such shenanigans. Of course since the unions do not help government run the ministries and government , they were basically informed of the changes possibly as an after thought. We hope they achieve their goals. This concept of unilateral decision making is taking Goliath trends. Changing laws and conditions of service willy nilly seems to be trending.

On a more positive note, plans are afoot to bring labour together on various fronts; through a growing union presence in BOFEPPPUSU and a possible merging of sector unions. The latter is sponsored by Education International and we hope to reach nirvana soon.

As has become the norm, ANTUSA came and went; the games in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe were successful and the next chapter is in Livingstone, Zambia on Easter 2017. The Cultural Night was also a successful event and the last event of the year is smaller than previous ones.

The excursion for the unwinding exercise is to Port Elizabeth , South Africa. We hope comrades in general will go to unwind in numerous ways which will bring them back refreshed. An assignment we all have to deal with as unionists is how best to use our energies to deal with Goliath, especially the slavery of being essential without the attendant benefits. How best to deal with the proposed changes in laws which are being rammed down our throats.

Comrades, it is unseeming to tell people to go celebrate when one is heavy hearted and wooden legged, but Merry Christmas anyway and let's hope for a better looking and feeling year.

 

 

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