BDF slapped with endless lawsuits

• Accountants, engineers sue for better salaries • IT officers, lab technicians join the fray • Army nurses won’t settle out of court

BDF slapped with endless lawsuits

The Botswana Defence Force (BDF) is currently grappling with an avalanche of lawsuits from various members of the army who feel aggrieved and seek legal remedy regarding for collapsed salary structures that the BDF had initially entered into with the officers, The Business Weekly & Review has established.

This is to the BDF nurses suit in which the applicants are reportedly refusing to settle out of court. In all the cases, it appears that officers are accusing the BDF of failure to honour its contractual obligations.

One of the most serious ones involves disgruntled officers who are accusing the BDF of unlawful termination of the de-linking exercise which ultimately affected their remuneration.

Sources close to the developments say the case pertaining to the engineers will be heard at the Lobatse High Court on Wednesday while that of nurses has been slotted for 20 August 2020 in Francistown before Justice Moroka.

According to information gathered by this publication, other cases include accountants, IT officers, pharmacists and lab technicians who are all suing their employer over salaries.

Regarding the army nurses, the BDF has reportedly verbally expressed its intention to settle out of court. This comes after nurses threatened to resign en masse post the six-month State of Emergency (SoE) which will end in October. However, sources say the nurses have rejected the proposal outright because they no longer trust in their employer.

The Business Weekly & Review can reveal that the 52 nurses who work at different clinics across the country have already decided to move on and will tender their resignations immediately after the SoE. It is said that some of the nurses are contemplating joining the Sir Ketumile Masire Teaching Hospital (SKMTH) and are unlikely be still with the army when the second wave of Covid-19 infections hits the country.

Court documents seen by this publication show that the BDF has opposed the stance held by the plaintiffs. In their response filed before the Francistown High Court, the BDF argues that termination of the de-linking exercise was not unlawful. "The defendant denies that the termination of the de-linking amounted to unilateral variation of the plaintiffs' terms of employment," the army says.

The BDF also denies that the plaintiffs were entitled to be paid in terms of the de-linking. The army contends that military nurses were supposed to be remunerated at par with their civilian counterparts who perform the same duties at the same level as them. As such, BDF wants the action to be dismissed with costs.

Investigations by The Business Weekly & Review point to contractual disputes being among the reasons that members of the army across departments are taking their employer to court.

This is not the first time that the BDF has faced off with its members in court. Nurses have another long standing case where they demand to be paid a 30 percent overtime allowance and have called on their employer to show cause why they should not be entitled to the allowance.