Botswana Mine Workers Union (BMWU) has drafted a letter addressed to the Permanent Secretary to the President, Eric Molale, to seek intervention in the matter between Debswana management and its employees over the North Star 2010 Strategy.
The recent conflict between Debswana management and the Botswana Mine Workers Union (BMWU) over the operational review implementation is yet to climax, as the two have been bashing one another in the public.
This time the Union is accusing management of developing a culture of sucking money from the company with impunity prior to 2004, through initiatives such as the operations review, which they say, will only stand to benefit management.
2004 was the year of the Industrial strike that resulted in a loss of well over 461 employees in Debswana mines.
BMWU says that in 2004, money was taken in the form of production bonuses when the company performance was high, while those in the bargaining units were deprived of these bonus payouts but were given small bonuses in the form of discretionary bonuses.
According to BMWU, management’s alleged gross unfairness was rejected by employees who staged a strike to protest in August 2004.
“As if that was not enough, Debswana management imposed union puppets who were democratically removed from office to do it favours. It used these stooges to enter into unfair collective labour agreements e.g. privatisation and outsourcing between the company and the Union,” read the letter.
The Sunday Standard recently received information of BMWU’s position in regard to the socio-economic impact of the North Star strategy that was allegedly presented on behalf of all union members in Debswana.
In the letter, BMWU states that the information it collected was a way of soliciting support to prevent implementation of the Operations Review, which will lead to many job losses.
Debswana claimed to have benchmarked against best practises in what according to them are world class companies such as Snap Lake, Barrick Gold Nevada and BCL mine.
Debswana estimates have predicted that about 1287 workers will have lost their jobs by May 2010.There has been a decline in employment of about 1043 since 2004.
Debswana is currently the main contributor to the economy of Botswana with 70 percent foreign exchange earning, 50 percent of government revenue and 30 percent of GDP.
“In six months’ time, the company intends to retrench a combined total operations review and outsourcing of 1167 employees from the bargaining unit starting May 2010 and 111 employees in the management bracket, which gives a sum total of 1278 excluding numbers which will come from the impending privatisation of the education, Medical and aviation services,” said the letter.
The union claims the management only approached them in December to brief them about the new proposed retrenchment driven structure, which was to change people s lives in an abrupt manner.
BMWU reports that life commitments for Debswana employees are now in total disarray because of the proposed retrenchments.
“In doing so, management did not consider that the affected employees would need a reasonable time period to prepare themselves to leave the company. The unsuspecting mine workers had already booked their children in schools nearby and would have to withdraw them at short notice,” reads the letter.