Wednesday, October 21, 2020

BOT50 gremlins scratch BTCL workers

Scores of employees of the embattled Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTCL) were this week left in the lurch when the company issued them with letters advising them to stop reporting for duty ahead of the end of their contracts at the end of the month (September 30).

There are even claims that the company which sold its shares to the public this year is engaged in scrupulous retrenchments of unspecified number of its workers.

Sunday Standard has seen letters from the company’s Head of Human Resource, Teko Monko, advising employees at short notice that “your last working day shall be” the same day that they were issued with letters.

Information gathered by Sunday Standard shows that staff morale was low this week at the BTCL headquarters and its centres across the country after some employees were issued with letters that their contracts which end on September 30 would not be renewed.

The latest development is said to have also thrown the BTCL staff into a panic mood as the letters were issued to individuals on separate dates.

While Sunday Standard was unable to establish how many employees would lose their jobs, insiders say the  number is extended to rise because the management continues to issue employees from various sections of the company with letters indicating that their contracts would not be renewed when they end on September 30.

Some of the employees who spoke on condition of anonymity stated that they were still “shocked and traumatized” by the company’s decision to issue them with letters without consulting them. They said the management has not bothered to hold meetings to address them that their contracts would not be renewed.

The letters show that some of the employees were literally fired on the same day that they reported for duty.

 “We were only issued with letters advising us that today is the last working day. While some of our colleagues have been notified that their last working days would be September 30 a considerable number of us were literally fired on the spot,” they said.

The letters from Monko advise employees that “the company recognises the need to assist employees with counseling services. In the event that you need counseling services, you must engage the Wellness Manager situated at BTCL-TEC north.”  But Sunday Standard has it on good authority that no such counselling services were offered to the affected employees.

The employees who have been with the company for quite a number of years said they never imagined that BTCL would act in such an “inhumane and degrading manner”.

Monko’s correspondence also states that “please be advised to make an arrangement with the bank in advance before your last working days in relation to any outstanding loans taken through the company”.

The employees said BTCL management was abusing its powers because the company is not required to provide reasons for not renewing employees’ contracts. They claimed that the majority of those shown the door are those who are outspoken and have questioned a number of issues such as maladministration and corruption within the company. According to the employees, their performances do not warrant the company’s decision not to renew their contracts as their supervisors never complained about their work ethics.

“We are of the view that BTCL is secretly retrenching and it is doing that without the consent of the board. This is happening at the time when the Acting CEO Anthony Masunga is on leave. We believe that he deliberately went on leave to avoid taking responsibility,” they said.

They added that “we were left shocked when a company that is now owned by Batswana is acting in a dishonest manner. Prior to being issued with letters some of us were called for disciplinary hearings on trumped up charges.”

The employees further noted that “our transgression was that we were questioning some of the issues such as awarding of tenders to companies that never tendered and realignment of the operational structures of the company.”

Reached for comment, BTCL spokesperson Golekanye Molapisi said he was not at liberty to discuss contractual matters between the employer and employee with the media.

(BTCL) share price recently reached its all-time low since first being floated on the Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) in April of this year. As of August 12, the stock had plummeted to P0.90 per share, signifying a 10 Thebe loss for investors who purchased their shares on the primary market.

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