Thursday, October 22, 2020

BCL in a new industrial relations dispute

Selibe Phikwe: The Botswana Mineworker’s office was a beehive of activity at the close of official workday Friday as sacked BCL shift bosses sought redress after receiving letters of retrenchment.

About 80 of them were sacked. “A small number of between nine and 11 have been kept and we do not understand what makes them different from the rest of us,” one victim queried.

The workers believe that they were fired as a result of queries they raised with the management as early as 6 December 2005.

In a letter addressed to the BCL General Manager Montwedi Mphathi the miners complained that: they were not graded according to the newly agreed job structure of 2005 at SP1.

Their current posts at AO2 and AO3 were not in line with their jobs as supervisors,
The jobs of other mine workers had been upgraded as agreed in job structure but the shift bosses were sidelined.

Their firing letter, dated 27 October 2006 and signed by Human Resources Manager, T.R. Mazwigwila, says: “Subsequent to our recent consultation with the shift bosses regarding ‘redeployment/retrenchment we confirm that you fall within the category of employees likely to be affected by this process.

“The company will continue to explore redeployment as an option to retrenchment and has not been able to identify alternative employment for you as yet. We however welcome you to approach your head of departments in the event you become aware of alternative employment that you may opt for.

“Please note further that in accordance with the agreement subsisting between the company and the union, you have an option of making a voluntary application for retrenchment for consideration by the company”.

This option is open, according to the Human Resources Manager, until 15 November 2006, the letter says.

The shift bosses believe that the offer of redeployment is disingenuous because the management will ultimately say there are no alternative jobs available. They believe that BCL management wants to make room for diploma holders who found them on the job.

The retrenchment comes in the aftermath of a long running tussle for recognition of the current leadership of the union by the management.

At the time of writing this report trade union leaders were in Gaborone seeking legal advice to effect an urgent application to the courts to compel the management of the mine to recognize them.

The current leadership ÔÇô among them Secretary General, Jack Tlhagale – had earlier secured a court ruling recognizing them as the legitimate union officers, sending the group that was favoured by the management to jail.

Matters have reached an impasse because management continues to recognize the disgraced leadership which has no legal standing according to the court decision. It does not recognize the leadership endorsed by the courts.

In addition, four previous officers of the union still await a court judgment over the dismissal in 2004.

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