Sunday, December 5, 2021

3000 miners stay put in Phikwe, hopeful the mine will reopen

Atleast 3000 former miners at the government owned mine – BCL have not relocated from the mining town of Selebi Phikwe expressing hope that the mine will one day reopen.

The Botswana Miners Workers (BMWU) has confirmed that of the 3 000 employees, around 1000 of the employees are still staying in the BCL houses.

The BCL mine was closed in October 2016 alongside Tati Copper mine which resulted in close to 6000 miners losing their jobs.

However, fifteen months after the closure, the former miners are still dissatisfied with the way the mine closure was handled by its sole shareholder ÔÇô the Botswana government.

BMWU confirmed this week that scores of former employees are still not paid their retrenchment packages and other benefits.

In an interview with the Sunday Standard on Friday, the Secretary General of Botswana Miners Workers (BMWU), Mbiganyi Ramokate could not hide his disappointment and said that BMWU and former BCL employees expected a lot from government concerning the plight of the retrenched former BCL employees who are now wallowing in abject poverty.

“This issue is long overdue and we expected a lot from government regarding the welfare of BCL former employees. Sadly the Permanent Secretary to the President did not bring anything much to the table and to be honest we are disappointed,” he said.

The disgruntlement follows a recent visit to Selebi Phikwe by the Permanent Secretary to the President Carter Morupisi.

Touching on issues that were discussed during the meeting with the PSP, he said on the 28th of August 2017 the Union had raised concerns and made demands that former BCL employees who were injured while working for BCL had been thrown to the gutter and had their needs had to be attended to. He said they had to be paid under medical compensation. He also said that it is sad to note that such employees cannot afford the opportunity work and feed their families.

“We had also pleaded with government for BCL employees who were retrenched to be given first priority whenever hiring is done in other mines,” he said.

Ramokate said in response the PSP said during last week meeting that those who were injured will now get health services at government hospitals and added that there is a government programme that would send them outside the country should the need arise for their health attention. However with retrenchment packages for employees, Ramokate said the PSP maintained that since the mine closed due to liquidation, the law does not provide that the employees be given retrenchment packages.

He said the PSP said government is still yet to consider what should be done to address the issue of compensation for former employees.

“We are clearly disappointed because we thought the government will give us a better answer 15 months after BCL was shut down. We really expected a better answer from the government but the visit by the PSP did not help the situation. If there is still no positive out-come we are left with no choice but take the government to court,” he emphasized.

He said what boggles and disappoints them is the fact that other employees who were retrenched at the Johannesburg Procurement Office which was owned by BCL were given their retirement packages which they consider not fair. He said the government should have taken necessary steps after its announcement to retrench and see how it would compensate workers their retrenchment packages.

“The same main shareholder who is government had since announced that it wanted to retrench. Now we do not understand why retrenched employees are not given the retrenchment packages,” Ramokate said.

He also said that it is also sad to note that some senior managers at BCL where paid three months notice while general BCL employees were not afforded the same. In conclusion he said the Permanent Secretary to the President did not say when he will be back again to bring them feedback on their grievances.

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper