Employees of embattled power utility Botswana Power Corporation (BCP) have threatened to down their tools in protest against skewed negotiations tactics by the employer in the build up to a massive retrenchment exercise that is likely to be implemented sometime next month.
Information passed to Sunday Standard indicates that the Botswana Power Corporation Workers Union (BPCWU) has threatened to embark on a country wide industrial strike, likely to plunge the country into chaos doe to widespread power outrages, if the employer is not willing to negotiate in good faith ahead of the looming retrenchment, which is expected to render close to 200 employees unemployed.
It is understood that union members are piling pressure on the BPCWU to force the employer to accede to their demands before the retrenchment exercise is implemented. In an interview with Sunday Standard, the newly elected Secretary General of BPCWN, Reuben Kereng expressed displeasure with the conduct of BPC management in the build up to the retrenchment exercise.
“We are very embarrassed by the way the management of BPC is conducting itself in relation to negotiations regarding the retrenchment exercise as proposed by the employer,” he said.
Kereng explained that they were surprised by the proposition tabled by BPC in nine selected allowances, where the employer wants to pay employees amounts that are below the exit package of 2013.
“This is totally unacceptable. The union will not accept anything below the 2013 exit package because that will be day light robbery,” he said.
He further explained that the employer claims that it has financial challenges which may make it unable to afford any large settlement payments.
“Should that be our problem? The employer has not been negotiating with us in good faith. Both parties have reached a deadlock and the only option is for the Commissioner of Labor to set a date for mediation,” said Kereng.
He further revealed that the union still has unresolved cases with BPC that are still to be resolved by the courts. Asked if the union will embark on industrial action if their demands are not met, Kereng said: “In the last congress it was agreed that if push comes to shove, our members will pick a date which has not been decided yet on which to embark on an industrial strike. You must remember that we take our mandate from the members.”
He however said the union will exhaust all available channels before embarking on industrial action. Contacted for comment BPC spokesperson Spencer Moreri said: “I am sorry, but I am not in a position to discuss this matter with a third party.”