- Manual Workers Union go it alone, demand bigger cut for low income workers
- Propose pyramid model to boost underpaid lower level cadres
The National Amalgamated, Local and Central Government and Parastatal Workers Union (NALCGPWU) has opted to negotiate alone with Government for salary increment for its members, away from other trade unions that fall under the federation -BOFEPUSU banner.
The union, sources reveal, feel strongly that any increment that Government should give should be guided by the pyramid model, since it is their contention that the bottom tier of workers are the ones most hard-hit by inflationary pressures.
The March 2022 Inflation rate stood at 10% from a high of 10.6% in February; forcing Bank of Botswana to hike the bank rate for the first time in three years in an effort to tame the run-away inflation. The bank had set an inflation objective range of 3-6% as the one desirable for the growth of the economy.
“The union feels that the underpaid members of society are the ones that need more cushioning against the devastating effects of rising cost of living due to the Covid-19 pandemic than those at the top level,” said one source close to the union.
When quizzed about their negotiation position, the union’s Chief Negotiator, Robert Rabasimane declined to comment, saying it was against the rules of negotiations. He, however, explained that by going it alone in the current salary negotiations should not be misconstrued to mean that they have left their federation- Botswana Federation of Public, Private and Parastatal Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU).
Other unions – Botswana Teachers Union (BTU), Botswana Sectors of Educators Trade Union (BOSETU), Botswana Land Boards, Local Authorities and Health Workers Union (BLLAHWU) and Botswana Nurses Union (BONU) joined by Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) – allegedly prefer a different model.
Meanwhile negotiations that started on Tuesday in Palapye between Manual Workers Union were allegedly still at stalemate on Friday morning; meaning that there will be more hours of negotiations to cover. Government is currently negotiating with three union blocks being Manual Workers Union, the five other BOFEPUSU unions block and the Trainers and Allied Workers Union (TAWU) block on the other hand.
Manual Workers Union is allegedly motivated to push for pyramid salary offer by the fact that the majority of civil servants are drawn from this rank, with the C scale holding the biggest chunk of Government employees in both central and local government. For example, in the Central Government establishment register the C scale has over 56 000 employees and when adding other lower scales to it the numbers grow to over 80 per cent of the total employees on the register.
According to the Pemandu Associates Salary Review Report that was prepared for Government in 2019, salary reviews in Botswana have generally been prompted by the rising cost of living (once it is above 6 per cent); an increase of government revenue beyond 40 per cent; and when GDP grows beyond 6 per cent.
Pemandu had among others bemoaned that Government salary structure had many limitations that made it difficult to acquire and retain the necessary skills and competencies to transform the public service sector into a high performing organisation. “The salary range is narrow, with no overlaps, making it difficult for an employee to advance in terms of salary. Many of the employees are stagnant at the ceiling of their salary grade, waiting for a vacancy to occur in the higher grade for a promotion opportunity,” regretted Pemandu.
It was on the basis of this that they recommended a redesign of the salary structure with a view to have broad bands that get broader at the higher grades with a high degree of overlap between one range and another.
Pemandu Associates further recommended the phasing out of the Scarce Skill allowance, which at the time was costing P32 million per year to Government. Even more pointed was their recommendation for the right-sizing of the public service through a deliberate programme of outsourcing services from the private sector.