Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Mupane Gold mine workers could down tools over salaries increase stalemate

FRANCISTOWN – Botswana Miners Workers Union (BMWU) has accused Mupane Gold Mine for lack of financial transparency as it believes such vital information should be availed to the union.

Located in the north east district of Botswana, Mupane Gold Mine is a conventional open-pit and underground mine which is the only miner of gold in the country. Mupane Gold Mine is owned by Galane Gold (Pty) Ltd, a Toronto based Canadian company and currently has 111 employees represented by the union.

The accusation comes in the back drop of a looming strike by the mine employees over salary increments and other benefits. The employees had demanded the mine to increase their salaries from 4 percent to 13 percent and to also afford them full bonuses as the year comes to an end. This has since caused a dead lock between the union and the mine management forcing the employees to plan a strike. The employees are demanding a salary increase to cushion them from the high expense of living.

In an interview with the Sunday Standard last week BMWU General Secretary Maenge Maenge said the mine has continued to hide all its financial affairs away from the union which represents the employees.

“Ever since it has been operating in the country, Mupane Gold Mine has never availed any of its audited financial report to the union. We are in the dark. How do we negotiate with them if they hide such vital information from us,” he said.

He said what really saddens them is that the mine is refusing to afford them a 13 percent increment and only settled for a meager 4 percent giving reasons that it is currently facing financial challenges. Maenge expressed disappointment saying that while the mine maintains that it has financial challenges, it went to the extent of buying another mine in New Mexico. He also said Galane Gold (Pty) Ltd which is the parent company continues to inject funds into another mine (Galaxy) in South Africa which is not performing well.

“They really do not have the plight of their Batswana employees at heart. They are only interested in exploiting resources from here in our country and leaving Batswana in abject poverty. Mupane Gold Mine does not even have an account here as its budget and finances are run in Canada by its parent company Galane Gold Pty Ltd,” said a clearly disappointed Maenge,” he said.

He said even if they can take the mine to court they are likely to lose the case because all the finances are handled in Canada, a situation which does not stand well with the union. He said their expectation is for the mine to meet the satisfaction and needs of its employees Botswana. On the current salary negotiation stand-off, Maenge said they have no choice but to launch a strike.

“We demanded 13 percent increase and they are refusing as they say that the company is not doing well. We settled for the 8 percent increase and they still declined. They said that they can only afford to pay us a four percent. What is also disheartening is that they are maintaining that they will pay us the bonuses at their own discretion,” he said.

“The discretion they are talking about is also not clearly defined. In other words they will be paying the bonuses according to their own mercy. We believe employees have a right to be paid full annual bonuses and it is their entitlement in that. They have been doing that for the past five years,” he added.

Several efforts to get a comment from the General Manager of Mupane Gold Mine, Cedric Sam proved futile last week as his phone was not answered.

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