Mediation in the salaries dispute between the Debswana management Botswana Mine Workers Union (BMWU) has run into a cul-de-sac.
BMWU, having advocated for workers’ rights since 1971, wants a 15 percent pay hike whilst Debswana, the world’s leading diamond producer by value, says ‘zero’.
Contrary to what has been reported about the events of last Tuesday, Jack Tlhagale, secretary general of BMWU, denies that they have resorted to strike action.
The strike had allegedly taken place in the country’s diamond rich towns of Orapa and Jwaneng.
“There was no strike. What simply happened was that a peaceful demonstration was carried out by workers of both the Orapa and Letlhakane mines as a way of alerting the relevant figures, in this case, Debswana management of the issue at hand,” said Tlhagale.
Tlhagale says that issues of ‘the recession’ are no longer relevant because the company has recovered enough money to meet their demands.
“If there was no money, then Debswana wouldn’t be investing in multi-million Pula projects like the cut-8 project in Jwaneng,” said Tlhagale.
The global recession had made a negative impact on the demand for rough diamonds during the first quarter of 2008 and production levels were cut down. Some mine workers were fired while others were forced to take early retirement packages.
The Orapa, Letlhakane mines were the most affected as workers were given two months leave on half salary.
There was a ramp-up in mine production in the second quarter of 2009 with signs that the Christmas sales season will be better than last year.
De Beers CEO, Gareth Penny, recently reported to Reuters that mining at the Debswana sites in Botswana was now pushing above 80 percent of capacity.
“I don’t see any reason for Debswana not to oblige to our plight. We as the mining community are working hard, meeting set targets and we are certainly producing enough output,” said Tlhagale.
On Friday, Debswana officials were not available for comment.