- Statistics Botswana negotiated in a bad faith -Judge Baruti
- SB ordered to furnish BOPEU with financial results
Statistics Botswana (SB) executive management is at pains, after suffering defeat at the hands of unionised staff affiliated to Botswana Public Employess Union ( BOPEU) on the 2020 salary negotiations.
BOPEU had dragged Statistics Botswana management to the labour court accusing them of negotiating in bad faith. Francistown Industrial Court Judge Galesite Baruti delivered a blow to SB when he recently ordered management to stick to the initial August 14 2020 position paper proposing for 10% inflationary adjustments for staff.
Statistics Botswana top management decided to withdraw the inflationary adjustments for the financial year 2020/21 of 10% for both the middle management and clerical staff respectively.
On the correspondence dated 25 August 2020, SB withdrew its initial position paper presenting 6% adjustment to salary Bands STB 5, 6, 7, 8 and 10% adjustment for salary Band STB 9 as well.
According to Baruti, Statistics Botswana’s unilateral withdrawing of the position paper of 14 August 2020, containing its proposals on salary adjustments is an act of bargaining in a bad faith.
“Respondent (Statistics Botswana) shall, in 30 days furnish applicant with document it requested through its letter of the 13th January 2020. And shall bargain with applicant (BOPEU) in a good faith as required by Collective Labour Agreement (C.L.A) and section 48 (4) of the Trade Unions and Employers Act with respect to the 2020\21’s salary negotiations,” said Baruti on judgment.
During the 2020\21 salary negotiations, on the 13th January 2020, BOPEU requested SB to disclose information for purposes of preparing for negotiations and bargaining of 2020\21 salary negotiations.
Amongst others, BOPEU requested a disclosure of information on the annual audited financial statements for the 2018\19 financial year, year to date management accounts for the 2019\20 financial year and employee benefits and their costing, including allowances for financial year 2019\2020.
The union expressed displeasure to the management’s lack of adherence to Collective Labour Agreement and the principles that guide good faith bargaining and practice, hence it suing SB.
“We draw the attention of Management of the Codes of Good Practice, Model Procedures and Agreements, whereat the duty to bargain in good faith has been clearly outlined in compliance with the section 51 of the Trades Dispute Act, as well as the CLA at clause 6.5.2 which states thus “In negotiating changes to the remuneration bill the parties shall set forth their proposals and demands having regard to inter alia the following factors,” wrote BOPEU to Statistician General, Dr Burton Mguni.
Furthermore, the union said its position was based on management’s initial proposal that had factored in all costs.
Also, Judge Baruti said the CLA doesn’t address a scenario where a party makes a proposal and withdraws it.
“By the time the respondent withdrew its proposal of 10% for the STB 5-8 employees Applicant had already accepted it. It would be unfair to allow Respondent to unilaterally withdraw its proposal. It would be unfair to allow respondent to unilaterally withdraw its proposal. It must be borne in mind that accepting to the proposal does not at this negotiation stage necessarily constitute a legal binding agreement,” said Baruti punching holes on the decision by SB to unilaterally withdraw.
SB under pressure
Furthermore, Baruti said SB must be compelled to bargain on the basis of the proposal of the 14th August 20220, rather using 6% order of directive from the government on salary increase.
He also said because the parties are still to sit around the table through their J.N.C.F, there is a reasonable possibility that 10% proposal that Applicant would love to hold Respondent to may change due to other crucial factors. “For instance it would be unlikely that the STB 5-8 cadre would walk away with 10% increment, whilst the lower rating STD 9 go away empty handed or with a lower percentage. Juggling between these two groups may ultimately prove that the 10% is not necessarily the low hanging fruit as anticipated by the Applicant,” said Baruti.