The Debswana management recently asked for a joint meeting with mine union leaders in a quest to refute claims of possible job losses within the diamond mining community.
This development came after the management learned that the miners, whose population in Orapa alone is close to 6500, were in constant fears of losing their jobs in the coming year.
The fears were awakened by the admission by top management that the diamond industry will be amongst the hardest hit by the global credit crunch.
That, plus the fact that for the past five years or so, Debswana has had a history of tactfully relieving employees of their duties.
┬áQuite a number of┬ásorrowful employees recently vacated Orapa after being handed an 11-month notice sometime last year because Debswana was carrying out its restructuring programme.
Shortly before that, about 450 other workers had been fired because of their involvement in a strike that had seen normal mining activity coming to a halt. ┬á
Local media speculates that if the economic crisis deepens next year,
Debswana will have to contemplate measures, such as job cuts and, for some employees, 6 months unpaid leave.
To add to their fears, Seb Sebetela, the Orapa and Letlhakane Mines manager and Debswana employee for over 28 years, and a man highly praised for his professionalism and work ethics, resigned and moved to the smaller Tati Nickel Mine.
The fact that he retired at a time when the Debswana financial crisis was identified did not help matters.
Orapa workers were puzzled as to why he would leave at a time when the community needed him the most.
Some are already insinuating that, as a leader, he had already been advised of the dangers looming ahead and made a wise move to leave the diamond industry before matters got out of hand.
┬áJack Tlhagale, secretary general of the Botswana Miners’ Workers Union was recently quoted in the media as having said that the issues pertaining to job cuts would be discussed extensively sometime next week.
┬á“We understand that people are concerned but that is something which we hope to explore in detail at the Monday meeting in Orapa,” said Tlhagale.