Tuesday, July 5, 2022

BMWU counts its milestones

A Botswana Mine Workers Union official, Bob Malele, told attentive members of his union during Workers Day that theirs was a tried and tested Trade Union.

He said a lot has happened since their last successful May Day at Sowa Town many of which cannot be discussed in a short period of time. To bring into light those incidents that seemed to describe the nature of their work environment clearly, he recalled the peaceful demonstrations they made at Soda Ash against low wage increment.

“When our members demonstrated against low wage increment and protracted negotiations, management became very angry at the Branch committee. After demonstrations, committee members were forced to apoligise in writing to management and to denounce their petition,” said Malele. “On top of that, one of them was forced to write a secret letter accepting management’s offer outside the negotiation forum by so doing disrupting negotiations ahead of mediation.”

He further reminded those who know, of the slope to failure at Jwaneng Mine in 2012. He said a slope that collapsed at an open pit diamond mine of Jwaneng trapped one employee under nearly 200 000 tonnes of rocks. At the commencement of the enquiry, Debswana attempted to use the Director of Mines to bar the President of BMWU from taking part in the investigation on behalf of the union.

In the second round of the inquiry, the inspector of Mines finally blocked him and when he resisted, the inquiry was postponed and moved to Gaborone at a later date and they are still waiting for the report.

“Early this year an employee at Discovery Metal Limited was trapped to death by heavy moving machinery, also the Inspector of Mines tried to bar our National Executive Committee representative to take part in the accident inquiry. After a long struggle, he was allowed to participate,” he said.

Malele also recalled that a Russian called Norlisk unfairly did not pay five of their members their dues emanating from the job evaluation exercise. The matter, he said, dragged on until it reached arbitration in 2012. The Union won the case but Tati Nickel refused to respect the arbitration award and did not pay compensation as ordered. While the matter is still pending, two of these members have passed on.

Another employee of Debswana, Tebogo Toto, won an unfair dismissal case against Debswana but the company refused to respect the Court order of reinstatement. The Company later appealed, and reinstatement was turned down by the Court of Appeal.

He said mineworkers leave employment on an on-going basis for different causes.

“It concerns us that those who leave due to injuries on duty or occupational diseases on incapacity do not get to be compensated smoothly. The procedure for claiming compensation in Botswana is not clear and structures for holding employers accountable are ineffective if not non-existent,” Malele said.

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