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In a quest for the advancement of staff welfare, Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST) has amenably penned a Memorandum of Understanding with of Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) and Botswana Sectors of Educators Trade Union (BOSETU) acting together in a novel Joint Collective Bargaining Forum (JCBF). The MoU was signed recently at the BIUST Campus.

BIUST Vice-Chancellor Professor Otlogetswe Totlolo appreciated the Unions’ joint collective bargaining forum as the keystone to the emancipation of the workforce. He acknowledged its marriage with BIUST as a welcome development that would promote progressive environment that would create and maintain good employment relations between the University and its employees.

He said in the spirit of partnership and working towards maintaining a good relationship, BIUST appreciated the importance of collective bargaining and negotiation process and thus commited to a cordial working relationship with the Unions acting jointly. Prof Totolo reckoned the joint effort involved seeking acceptable solutions to issues through a genuine exchange of views. This event, he said posited a commendable effort that recognized a common interest and joint purpose in fostering the vision, strategy and aims of the University. 

“We affirm the importance of this joint effort, and we offer our commitment to exchanging views in the spirit of good employment relations with a view of reaching mutual understanding and appropriate decisive conclusions, for the good of our university,” he said.

Prof Totolo further explained that like any organisation, the University recognised that workers were integral to the University in that they were a means for delivering that which the University existed for. Equally so the University, he said was a life stream on which workers made a living while they make a valuable contribution to national sustainability and pay their obligation as citizens.  

“The workers are part of the University, and the relationship is thus a mutual and symbiotic one. They are like a body that has a head and other parts that complement each other to sustain a meaningful life. It is in the mutual interest of both parties to work with each other as partners and to create a positive climate of employment relations,” he noted.

As a university vested in the economic growth of the nation, he said the university was committed to harmonious employee relations as employees were the key competitive advantage. He further noted that in the spirit of partnership and working towards maintaining a good relationship, as a University they appreciated the importance of collective bargaining and negotiation process, and they commit to a cordial working relationship with the Unions acting jointly.  

“We hope that all pending bargaining matters going forward will be resolved as prescribed in the Joint Collective Bargaining Forum agreement,” the BIUST Vice-Chancellor said.

Speaking in representation for the conjoined Unions, Mr Mothusi Mojela commended the two unions and BIUST for their resilience since the commencement of the talks on the MoU and for maintaining focus despite encountering a rocky start.

He said the primary purpose of unions was to act jointly in basic principle of the trade union which existed for workers’ rights and interests, adding “Our Unions coming together is for the purpose to increase the voice and activism of the workers’ rights and interests at BIUST.”

As independent Unions, he said they were often subjected to court battles with employers for various matters, and at times at each other’s throats because of lack of understanding, knowledge, and not knowing the purpose of a bargaining unit.

Considering the time and resources used to facilitate such a process, he requested that these teams undergo intensive negotiation training, adding that continuous capacitation of this structure was vital in closing the gap between the parties involved. 

Mr Mojela anticipated that the collective bargaining forum would quicken to conclude unresolved prolonged negotiations on pertinent pending staff welfare matters and policies such as promotions, staff development, localisation and succession planning.

Mojela viewed the agreement as an instrument that further enhanced the ideal of negotiating in good faith. “Let us be cognisant of and hasten to conclude pending matters such as the Court ruling – BOPEU vs BIUST on negotiating in good faith and complete the revision of the BIUST General Terms and Conditions at the earliest,” the BOPEU first Deputy President said.