Sunday, January 16, 2022

BTC backtracks on disguised retrenchment exercise

Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTC) has following a Sunday Standard expose that it was in the process of laying off scores of its employees under guise of a Fixed Mobile Convergence (FMC) restructuring exercise backtracked on its initial position and commenced separation package consultations.

In a memo in this newspaper’s possession addressed to employees, Head of Employee Relations, Keamogetse Mubu wrote that, “Please be advised that consultations on the separation package with all employees will commence week beginning 23rd September2013. Key stakeholders will include BOTEU, non-unionised employees and managers”.

Ironically, the memo was only dispatched to employees on the 2nd of October, 2013 although purporting that consultations had already commenced (on 23rd September 2013).

Fearing that the wholly government owned parastatal was in the process of implementing a restructuring exercise with potential of downsizing the current BTC staff compliment, concerned employees leaked information concerning the exercise to this publication after efforts to engage management and seek clarity as to what the whole exercise entailed failed.

Although management contended that the exercise would eventually open more opportunities as explained by the corporation’s spokesperson Golekanye Molapisi, employees held a contrary view.
The employees were apprehensive that the exercise would result in redundancies and as such deemed it appropriate that exit or separation packages be negotiated.

After management released the memo on separation package consultations, an elated employee who was initially fearful that some of them were in the process of being retrenched without getting a package, told this publication that the appropriate thing has been done.

“We knew from the beginning that the corporation was in the process of retrenching but was on the other hand not prepared to pay a single cent on the exercise. We are grateful that we will now leave the corporation with something unlike what they initially wanted to do. They had looked at all the legal loopholes and closed them off so that in the end they could not pay. It is clear now that those who won’t be absorbed by the new structure will be compensated. What management was trying to do to us was completely cruel. We can’t stop them from downsizing but they should to do it within the appropriate legal framework so that those who are ejected get their dues. That is all we want. Fair play and nothing else”, said the elated employee.

“It is not that management didn’t know what it wanted to do. They wanted to downsize but opted to do it in such a way that on face value it did not look like it is a retrenchment exercise. As employees we can never stop management from its tracks to transform the organization but they must do it with utmost sincerity. It has to be a win-win situation for all so that those who will not be absorbed by the new structure can leave the organization with some integrity in terms of the kind of compensation that they will been given. This should be a lesson to most organizations that are not sincere in dealing with their employees”, said another employee.

Launching an onslaught against the exercise, the employees contended that they were aware that the exercise posed job losses prospects. They pointed an accusing finger at General Manager (Support Services and Human Relations) Joy-Marie Marebole who is spearheading the exercise lamenting that she did the same at Barclays Bank of Botswana where she ejected a lot of employees under guise of non-performance.

An employee privy to the envisaged dispensation said all employees who will not be absorbed in the “to be” structure within the stipulated three months will be eligible to receive separation package on departure.

Efforts to solicit a comment from Molapisi on why management was initially insincere and how much the corporation is now budgeting for the exercise drew a blank at the time of going to press as his mobile phone rang continually unanswered.


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