The way the company laws are structured makes it easy for Debswana to do as it pleases with its employees, as is evident with all the retrenchments exercises, latest of which is the Organisational Alignment Project (OAP), said Jack Tlhagale, the Secretary General of the Botswana Mine Workers Union (BMWU).
Tlhagale maintains that the unions were not consulted on the issue.
He said that Debswana can come up with just about anything that is not of benefit to the employees and try to justify it with the company laws. He wondered how the company expected its employees to perform at their best when their jobs were not secure, and gave an example of how the employees were taken aback by the Section 25 of the employment Act letters that were given to all the company employees recently.
The Secretary General said that, as the union, they were surprised by the gesture because they didn’t believe that the company was at a level where they could start handing out letters without the nod from the union.
“I am at a loss as to why the company wants to retrench yet another batch of employees when the international markets are in demand for rough diamonds; we don’t even know how many people stand to lose their jobs,” said Tlhagale.
In an Interview with the Sunday Standard, Tlhagale said that it was not clear yet to the union why Debswana was already contemplating implementation of another retrenchment exercise before the dust had barely settled on the Operations Review Project (ORP).The Completion of the ORP was expected to result in a loss of 1278 jobs.
“Debswana’s retrenchments exercises are not a solution, just an opportunity for disgruntled employees to walk away with hefty packages, people are just getting money and walking away because they are always wondering what is next,” said Tlhagale.
He also dismissed talk that the Managing Director of Debswana, Jim Gowans, had a face to face consultation with Debswana employees. He said that he heard about the MD’s visit to the mines but “when you visit people in a general meeting, that is not consulting of any sort; he was telling them about the OAP, not opening up room for consultation,” he said.
Tlhagale added that the union is supposed to meet the management on the 26th of this month and that is when they can get a true picture of the future of the Debswana employees.
Meanwhile, Debswana released a statement to the effect that the GM will be addressing external stakeholders this coming Tuesday. The purpose of the session will be to update the stakeholders on Debswana’s 2010 performance.
“To give stakeholders the company’s year-to-date performance and its future outlook. Among some of the major projects that Gowans is expected to present on is the Jwaneng Mine expansion project, known as Cut 8, the Orapa Power Plant project and Debswana’s current ‘High Performance Organisation’ strategy, the objective of which is to transform it into a global benchmark mining business,” said Ester Kanaimba-Senai, Group manager for public and corporate Affairs.