Diamond Trading Company Botswana (DTC Botswana) is embroiled in a bitter wage dispute with Botswana Diamond Workers Union (BDWU), which has demanded that the diamond sorting and valuing company raise wages for its employees or risk industrial action.
Documents passed to The Telegraph indicate that the diamond sorting and evaluation company has been hit by high turnover recently and is battling a crippling brain drain that has seen qualified workers ditch it for greener pastures.
DTC Botswana is a 50/50 Joint Venture partnership between the Government of the Republic of Botswana and De Beers Group. It is the world’s largest and most sophisticated rough diamond sorting and valuing operation. DTC Botswana sorts and values Debswana Diamond Company’s rough diamond production.
In a letter dated 25 March 2015 and addressed to DTCB Human Resources ÔÇô Employee Relations Manager, Stella Moetsi, the union’s Chairperson, Modiri Keseabetswe states that it is evident that the company is losing employees for greener pastures to competitors in the market such as De Beers Global Sightholder Sales (DBGSS), Boteti, Debswana and Okavango Diamond Company.
“In 2014 alone, the company lost 46 employees of which 17 voluntarily left the company. We view this as huge loss as the company has invested considerable time and money recruiting and training these employees. It is important to determine how to make sure that those valuable employees remain productive and loyal to the firm,” he says.
Keseabetswe said retention of employees “is essential to maintain client relationships and keep recruitment and training cost in line.”
“Therefore, the key to employee satisfaction and retention are founded on strong leadership and sound management practice. We need a clear retention strategy which is essential to the company’s long term success,” said Keseabetswe.
He added that “it is against this back ground that we believe the company should pay at the market upper quartile scale as opposed to market median. The union’s proposed pay philosophy will go a long way in insuring competitiveness, high performance culture and that we are a world class state of the art organization.”
The documents in possession of The Telegraph show that that the union is demanding a 8 percent salary increase for employees, while management is offering a 4.55 percent increase. The parties only agreed on a P500 confinement allowance.
A joint statement issued by the union and DTCB , dated 12 June states that at the closing date of 28 May 2015, no final agreement had been reached and accordingly, in terms of section 13 of the Labour Agreement, a cooling off period’ came into effect.
“On the expiry of the ‘cooling off period’ the parties re-convened and the negotiations resumed on 11 June and continued to 12 June. Still no final agreement was reached, the reason for the failure to reach an agreement being that the parties’ positions were far apart,” states the statement.
On risk allowance, the union proposed a two day wellness day held during working hours and a P700 allowance per a month flat rate for all employees in the bargaining unit, while the management offered a one day wellness day held in 2015 and offered nothing for risk allowance.
On production bonus, management promised to establish a working group with representation from the union to develop a model for production bonus.
The working group is to submit its report with recommendations for a final decision by the managing director by 30 August 2015. The statement states that the entire procedure of 2015/16 salary negotiations has been exhausted without agreement being reached.
The Telegraph has learnt that the union has referred the dispute to the Commissioner of Labour and they are awaiting mediation which is expected to kick off on 6 July.