Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Former BCL employees falling through the cracks

Former BCL employees are likely stuck between the proverbial rock and a hard place after the appointed provisional Liquidator, Nigel Dixon-Warren, issued the mine’s former employees with calamitous news.

On Monday, the former employees received termination letters which informed them that starting 1 November, 2016, those presently residing in BCL houses will be expected to pay for their utility bills whereas housing allowance will cease for those who did not reside in the mine’s houses.  

The termination letters follow a previous letter from the liquidator, dated 19 October 2016, also addressed to the employees in which he informed them with respect to housing that, “I am currently working on a policy in relation to continued assistance with housing/accommodation for the period following termination of your employment. You will be entitled to continue to reside in company housing/ receive your monthly allowance until such a time as I notify you otherwise. I will provide you reasonable notice should you be required to vacate any property or should I need to terminate the allowance.” The recent letters however do not specify the date in which the former employees are expected to have vacated the houses, leaving them with an indefinite term of housing. The payment of utilities is seen as an illogical decision given that the former workers will into the future not have any source of income with the last salary having been received end of October.   

Regarding the termination of housing allowance, Dixon-Warren breached his earlier commitment of giving a warning to those who previously received it. This sudden termination could leave many homeless going forward as they will be forced to vacate their rented homes. One affected individual, Dikgang Boy, told this publication that his family which consists of three children and their mother, will relocate back home where he hails after the school term ends. Boy previously worked as a cage tender and received a housing allowance of P300. The allowance was dependent on the amount of salary a worker received. As a cage tender, Boy received a monthly salary of P3 200.    

Boy expressed grave displeasure with the inaccuracy of his employment history on the letter. The letter inaccurately states that he began his employment in 2005 whereas he commenced work three years earlier in 2002. He started as a cable operator, a position he held for ten years before working as cage tender. When he started work he received a salary of P600. He informed this publication that the union has heeded to issues surrounding employment contracts, and will deliberate on them.         

The former employees are expected to take exit medical examinations as to certify their fitness to work. It is uncertain as to when the former employees will receive their terminal benefits as the letter does not make a specific mention of the date of payment. Regarding pension, Dixon-Warren had earlier informed the former employees that it is “secure” and the recent letter states that they will receive it in three months time. 

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The Telegraph October 28

Digital edition of The Telegraph, October 28, 2020.