Minerals, Energy and Water Affairs Minister, Ponantshego Kedikilwe, urged Debswana management to go back to the drawing boards and come up with resolutions with a human face, regarding the impending Operation Review Project (OPJ) that is likely to result in massive retrenchments.
The new developments come after Debswana management and trade union Botswana Mine Workers Union (BMWU), declared a deadlock in the issued that forced the two to approach the minister for his intervention.
The management is expected to have drawn up their edited proposal by the 30th of April this year.
It’s expected that more negotiations will be undertaken between the two parties in view of the outcomes of the proposal.
At a meeting attended by Kedikilwe on the 16th of April, Managing Director of Debswana, Blackie Marole, stated that “the Board of Debswana has been pressurizing” the company’s management to cancel the Performance Management System.
This is contrary to the statement that management had earlier issued out, saying the decision to cancel the performance management system was “a unilateral one”.
Secretary General of the Botswana Mine workers union, Jack Tlhagale, said that he finds the notion of cancelling the performance management system strange and unrealistic because management cannot expect to push workers to meet the company’s set target and then not pay them for their tireless contribution like they have been doing in the past.
He also said that the Union is unimpressed with the arrangement whereby the Permanent Secretary to the President, Eric Molale, is a standing Debswana Board Chairman. He said that the arrangement presented a clear case of conflict of interest on Molale’s part.
“If the workers want to appeal a decision that was made by the board to government, they have to go through the same man who approved the decision in the first place, anybody can see it’s not a good arrangement,“ said Tlhagale.
Addressing the issue of the impending retrenchments as a result of the implementation of the operations review project, Tlhagale said that the minister has directed management to look at other ways that could make the implementation of the OPJ reasonable for all parties involved.
Tlhagale said that the Union believes that there shouldn’t be any retrenchments due to the project implementation.
“We as the union suggested that they could use the same tactic they used to survive the global recession. Instead of firing the workers whom they addressed as surplus people, they could transfer them to projects such as the Cut 8 project in Jwaneng,” said Tlhagale.
Tlhagale said that the Unions perceive the input of General Managers of Orapa Letlhakane and Damtshaa mines (OLM) as insignificant because they are appointed on a temporary basis.
He said that the temporary managers are incapable of making any relevant decisions on the matters that the workers are currently facing because they themselves are not sure of their jobs.
“The way we see it, anybody who is not fully appointed as general manager is not fully answerable to the mine and its workers,“ said Tlhagale.
Tlhagale said that during the meeting with Kedikilwe, a long list of issues was raised and none were met with better solutions.
“We are dissatisfied with the way Debswana is carrying and addressing issues concerning the workers; they are taking routes that are unreasonable to their own workers and this is frustrating,” said Tlhagale.