Sunday, June 23, 2024

More job losses expected as Debswana rolls out Strategy 2024

Hardly a year after the 2020/2021 retrenchments which shed 545 jobs, at least 122 more jobs are on the line in the ongoing rationalization of Debswana mines as the continues to implement its 2024 Strategy.

Of the 122 employees thus far impacted by resource rationalization, 43 have their employment terminated through voluntary separation whilst 44 have been placed on standby or re-deployment pool waiting for the company to identify possible openings.

“The rest of the workforce, were placed in restructured roles both on promotion and laterally in line with new structures,” said Agatha Sejoe, Debswana’s Corporate Affairs Manager-External.

Sejoe pointed out that they have been exploring opportunities to optimize their structures to ensure that they are better positioned to deliver Strategy 2024.

She said the rationalization exercise included among other things an assessment of current and future staffing requirements as the company prepared for the ever changing and unpredictable future state.

According to Sejoe, both the resource rationalization and the 2020-2021 Asset optimization and Asset closure under which the Orapa Plant 1 and Damtshaa Mines were placed on care and maintenance, form part of the four pillars of the company’s Organizational Re-design Initiative aimed at realizing Debswana 2024 strategy aspirations.

In addition to rationalization, optimization and asset closure which have so far impacted 667 jobs, workers also have to contend with two other aspects of the Debswana Organizational Re-design I.e Privatization and Outsourcing on one hand and Technology and Digitization on the other.

Responding to a questionnaire by Sunday Standard, Sejoe confirmed that Botswana Mine Workers Union(BMWU) and Debswana Management have already signed an agreement to privatize and outsource some of the jobs and services which adds to the effect of retrenchment in the mines.

“So far, the necessary training of all interested employees in affected areas has already begun to prepare them for possible participation in the outsourced services under the company’s Citizen Economic Empowerment Programme(CEEP) efforts,” qualified Sejoe.

Efforts to establish from the BMWU the content of the  privatization agreement as well as its implications have drawn a blank   although a questionnaire was sent out two weeks ago.

It has not been stated how many jobs will be affected by the privatization and outsourcing exercise.

 Debswana says its looking into available opportunities to boost the business through technology and digitization in line with the global transformation in the industry to become smart and connected in order to improve productivity and efficiency.

Sejoe could not state the number of jobs that will be lost saying , “In terms of impact, this is yet to be determined as currently studies are still ongoing on automation, and any resulting impact will mature with those studies”.

Sunday Standard inquired whether Debswana had notified the Commissioner of Labour as per the requirement of section 25 of Botswana’s Employment Act to which their response was on the affirmative.

Debswana acknowledged that 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 including retrenchment 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 and job categories, including the Union and the Commissioner of Labour…” posited Debswana’s Corporate Affairs Manager.

On the other hand the office of the Commissioner of Labour Ms Goitseone Kokorwe has flatly denied being notified by Debswana of rationalization and or retrenchments at their mines, adding that, “we are not aware of any retrenchments at Debswana and we are therefore not in a position to give any information”. Section 25 subsection 2 of the Employment Act CAP 47:01 provides, “Without prejudice to the other provisions of this part in relation to the giving of notice, when an employer forms an intention to terminate contracts of employment for the purpose of reducing the size of their workforce he shall forthwith give written notice of that intention to the Commissioner and to every employee to be or likely to be directly affected by the reduction.”

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