Hundreds of Morupule Coal Mine (MCM) workers are expected to lose their jobs as the company looks to revamp its structure as automation isset to render some services obsolete.
The MCM impending retrenchment is just the latest in mass retrenchments across the mining sector, as Botswana’s unemployment rate continues to surge.
MCM management says all employees will be affected by the exercise. The company says to mitigate job losses, the process allows employees to apply for voluntary separation, saying where skills gaps are identified, interventions to address such will be implemented.
“We envisage that a small number of employees will be released based on the selection criteria. This is informed by our talent informati
on. At this point we don’t know how many employees will ultimately be released,” says Boineelo Seitshiro, Corporate Affairs Manager.
MCM says employees have been briefed and consulted about the new strategy and the new structure as well as the possibility of separation. Seitshiro says employees’ representatives (Botswana Mine Workers Union) have also been consulted and their input incorporated into the processes to be followed.
While the Mine admits to retrenching staff over what they call a restructuring exercise and the need to accommodate technology that will render certain services irrelevant, management somehow claims the company may end up with more employees after all is said and done.
“Kindly note that the Mine plan envisages expansion in the mine operations and therefore it is for all intent and purpose a growth strategy. We therefore envisage an increase in the workforce numbers. We would therefore hasten to inform you that the process being followed is not your ordinary retrenchment which is normally informed or dictated by operational reasons leading to a reduction in the workforce. The current exercise is mostly informed by the need for talent renewal following the formulation and implementation of the new Mine strategy.”
The Mine says the “new strategy” has necessitated revamping their organization structure to a “fit for purpose one that will drive the growth trajectory and requires a different set of skills driven by automation of certain processes among others”. That MCM will have more employees after the exercise than they currently have.
Botswana Mine Workers Union’s Desmond Seomeng also confirmed the impending retrenchment exercise, saying they were still engaged with MCM management to finalize a retrenchment agreement. “They told us they are still looking at top management but would not tell us just how many employees stand to lose their jobs,” he said.
Debswana Diamond Company is also going through a restructuring process that will see scores of employees losing their jobs.
The company went to great lengths to downplay the impact of their restructuring exercise in an interview with Sunday Standard.
“As reported in previous stakeholder engagements, Debswana kick started the delivery of its 2024 strategy in 2020. Key to these deliverables is the People Transformation strategic pillar which is the driver and enabler of the strategy through initiatives such as Workforce planning and Future Skills planning, amongst other. In that respect, the Company has been making assessments on certain aspects of its business operations that are necessary to realise the strategy aspirations.”
Debswana says through the assessments and reviews on Resource Rationalization and Outsourcing/Privatization, they have been able to determine the impact of these processes on the workforce and have since communicated such to affected employees.
“For this purpose, we have, as guided by the Country’s employment laws, notified all employees in the affected work areas/job categories, including the Union and the Commissioner of Labour, and have ensured continued meaningful and open consultations with all affected employees and the Union as and when necessary. Considering the current economic environment, and the Company’s commitment to protecting jobs, a decision has been taken that any loss of employment will be restricted to Voluntary Separation and not compulsory retrenchment to limit the impact on employment.”
Botswana Mine Workers Union are also engaged in negotiations with Komatsu Botswana over retrenchments following the decision by Debswana to ditch the company. The Union and the company reached a stalemate over benefits to at least 65 employees laid off by the company.