The Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) will retrench almost half of its staff members, mostly those based at the Morupule power plant.
The Corporation is said to be losing money as employees at Morupule are currently doing nothing since Plant A was switched off to pave way for the new power station.
BPC Union is advocating for the termination of contract for Chinese contractor setting up the Morupule B power station.
Responding to a Sunday Standard questioner, the BPC spokesperson, Spencer Moreri, said the retrenchment process is expected to begin in the next three to six months.
He said the number of employees who will be affected by the exercise will be known when the corporation has concluded the process.
He explained that The Corporation has placed Morupule A under care and maintenance as an interim measure to preserve the power plant while undertaking a comprehensive project, which would see the plant returned to service by end of 2015 providing 116MW (Net) to the grid.
“Should there be any employees whose roles are declared redundant or their skills are considered obsolete during the staff rationalization process, then these employees would be exited in accordance with the Corporation’s Exit Policy,” he said, adding that the care and maintenance program has necessitated a staff rationalization exercise which will see, depending on the skills and experience of individual employees, ┬áredeployment of staff to the new Morupule B power station, care and maintenance program for Morupule A and the associated refurbishment project, redeployment to other operations of the Corporation.
The General Secretary of Botswana Power Corporation Workers Union (BPCWN), Bahithetswe Lentswe, said BPC will be retrenching some of the 250 employees at Morupule A who are currently doing nothing.
Since last year, he said, both the employer and the union have been negotiating on how the exercise can go about even though there had been some differences, which had been ironed out.
“BPC initially had already identified about 53 employees that were to be retrenched before the negotiations and the union slammed the move,” he said, adding that they are not aware of the exact date when the exercise will resume.
He indicated that though the union does not condone the exercise as people will lose their monthly income, the BPC has agreed to offer five months notice to those who have volunteered to be retrenched.
“As the union, we are heartbroken about the deteriorating situation about Morupule B power plant,” he added.
The union appeals to both Government and BPC to terminate, with immediate effect, the Chinese contractor who is engaged to build the power plant.
“This is not our first blander so why should we just admit and terminate the contract and start afresh,” he said. “It is never too late.”
Lenswe said, currently, the country is seating on a time bomb because Unit 1 and 2 are not working and the third unit is the only one functioning and wondered what happens if it too goes down.
He noted that once a technical problem occurs, it takes about three months to notice or rectify the problem, which is a real challenge.
“Government and BPC should take the entire blame for the whole mess they have caused as they were warned before the contractor was awarded the tender.”
He added that, sometime in 1996 before BPC took “a stupid decision” to demolish Selibi-Phikwe power station, the union pleaded with BPC that it should not demolish the power station.
“That was a very irresponsible move that BPC took and now we are in a desperate situation without electricity,” he said.
He concluded that the government should swallow its pride and tell Batswana the real situation prevailing at the power station.