Debswana employees through Botswana Miners Workers Union (BMWU) have pointed an accusing finger at Orapa Letlhakane and Damtshaa Mines (OLDM) management for victimizing and intimidating employees. They have also accused the General Manager of OLDM Bakani Motlhabani for failing to act on their grievances and have called for his removal.
In a petition that was served to the Managing Director of Debswana Balisi Bonyongo detailing a number of complaints and grievances against Debswana last month, the employees emphasized that the common features at the mine which is the oldest diamond mine in the country are that ordinary employees are subjected to victimization and intimidation on a daily basis.
Further the employees allege that deserving employees are denied promotions, some employees are threatened with disciplinary action unnecessarily, invasion of employee confidentiality and favouritism in recruitment and promotions. Employees also say in part of the petition that the company policies and procedures which are designed to create a conducive work environment at the mine are no longer useful but are often manipulated if not disregarded.
“The tragedy is that the disregard of policies and procedures is done by the same people who are supposed to be custodians and administrators of the systems. The net effect is that employees have lost confidence in the use of systems as they continually suffer incidents of abuse and ill-treatment from their management,” reads the petition which was served by the Secretary of BMWU Secretary General Mbiganyi Ramokate.
The joint petition is based on a resolution of general meetings of union members held in various branches seeking the Debswana Managing Director to pay attention to issues that threaten the welfare, health and safety of Debswana employees.
OLDM employees also allege in the petition that Senior Managers at EXCO Level have abdicated their responsibility and appear unconcerned as a result they do not ensure responsible conduct by managers below them. The disgruntled employees said this is aggravated by the fact that the Human Resource management is an accomplice and appears to be incapable of providing the necessary guidance for effective implementation of company policies. The employees are frustrated by lack of efficient mechanisms through which employees who are experiencing oppression or abuse or unhappiness channel their dissatisfaction and hope for an effective remedy.
“We appeal to you to intervene immediately by way of instituting thorough investigation of all incidents of maladministration and abuse of workers. Further that you take appropriate action which should include removal of those managers found to be performing below par or not supportive of peaceful co-existence,” reads the petition.
The employees are also accusing the Operation, Negotiation and Consultative Committee (ONCC) for being ineffective. This structure was put in place as a result of the recognition agreement entered between Debswana and BMWU. Through this arrangement parties meet and bargain in good faith on all issues of mutual interest with a view to resolve them in the best interest of the company and the employee.
However employees at OLDM allege that the management at the mine has resorted to using the forum to display power and to undermine the union. They are of the view that the forum has lost its integrity and it is a mockery. They also claim that issues are tabled and discussed without results because of the attitude of management. It is also alleged that the structure only convenes at the discretion of management and when it suits them.
“Issues tabled as far as 2016 have dragged on to 2018 and remain unresolved because managers seating in this forum are incapable of making decisions save for the ever postponements initiated by them under pretext of more time to consult. Their failure to make decisions on matters is evidenced by an increasing number of disputes declared since 2017. Hence our conclusion that they are not capable thus fails the organization,” employees say in the petition.
“The greatest disappointment at OLDM is the current General Manager, Mr Bakani Motlhabni who sees no evil in that he sees nothing wrong with his managers despite endless complaints from workers for problems to be resolved. Therefore there can be lasting remedy if you consider the removal of the General Manager as a matter of priority before the situation gets worse,” the petition reads further.