Thursday, October 5, 2023

Debswana, BMWU headed for war over Operations Review project

The Botswana Mine Workers Union (BMWU) has warned against the possible chaos that is to erupt within the general Debswana workforce should the management continue with its implementation of the Operations Review Project (ORP), which is to result in more than a 1000 loss of jobs.

The militant mine workers union believes that the Botswana public is yet to understand the implications brought by the much talked about project as they believe that the operations review project is nothing more than a sweep-up operation.

The union is of the opinion that the likely numbers of people to be retrenched will be more than the 1000 that company estimates had revealed.

It said that management is also beginning to slip up as inconsistencies in their stories are beginning to appear in press interviews.

The unions Chairman of Jack Tlhagale said on Friday that the facts presented to Sunday Standard by Debswana management in last week edition under the article titled ‘Debswana’s Operational Review project worse than recession’ (January 24-30), were far from the truth.

“They are quick to run to the media and talk about imaginary things like a selection criteria for the retrenchment exercise, we as the union are not aware of such. As long as we are concerned, there are no selection criteria, everything is haphazard,” said Tlhagale.

In a recent interview with the Sunday Standard, the union expressed disapproval of management’s implementation of the operation review strategy and how they have falsely presented the issue to the public.

“Debswana said they had notified the workers about the Operational Review project since the official launch; that is true, we accepted it because back then there were no indications of possible retrenchments. It was only in December 2009 that we learnt that the project was driven by retrenchments,” observed the union Chairman.

Debswana’s Group Manager for Public and Corporate Affairs, Esther Kanaimba-Senai, had last week revealed that Debswana’s implementation of the project threatens to cause more than 1000 job losses.

“According to the company’ s figures, about 1,278 jobs are hanging by the thread, and this is not inclusive of the job losses that are to result from Debswana’s privatisation of its schools, hospitals, and aviation amongst others. This could possibly be the biggest retrenchment the country’s yet to experience,” said Tlhagale.

It is also the opinion of the manual workers that Debswana devised retrenchments as part of the programme only to rid itself of the ‘troublesome’ union that forms part of the general workforce.

The workers believe that those in management are taking the easy way out as they bargain to keep their cosy jobs at the expense of the labour workforce.

BMWU and management have been locked in talks over the issue of implementation of the review in well over 3 sessions since the announcement of the retrenchments was made public, with the latter maintaining its stand.

“There are about three times that we have asked them to prove how their strategy will be achieved in practise because we do not believe this programme has a practical working structure, they have failed dismally to prove to us how the implementation of this project will improve the company’s performance,” said the chairman of BMWU.

BMWU revealed that it is currently working around the clock to find a way to save the workers from their proposed doomed fate, although the odds are heavily stacked in management’s favour.

“We are almost at the finishing point of brainstorming a way out, what is important to note though is that we are strongly advising against the implementation of the review and we will do everything we can to come up with a solution that is best for the workforce.”


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