Mediations talks between the management of the Botswana Telecommunications Corporation and Botswana Telecommunications Union (BOTEU) regarding packages for those who will be retrenched from the BTC are reported to have failed to produce results early this week.
This was confirmed by BOTEU Vice President, Nathaniel Kebalefetse.
Kebalefetse said the mediation talks failed after they could not agree on what the corporation was offering them as retrenchment packages.
”We failed to agree on the package they were offering as was the case before the mediation”, said Kebalefetse.
Asked what would the next step be, he said that they were planning to meet their legal advisors to get their view on the issue and that they would plan the way forward after that.
”We will meet our lawyers and explore the issue further before making a decision on what to do next,” he said.
He did not rule out the possibility of taking the issue up with the Industrial Court saying “we will also explore such an option of going to the Industrial Court as well and we will go to Court if our advisors point that it is the only way out.”
On whether they had briefed their members on the outcome of the mediation talks, he said that their members needed not be briefed every time they go for negotiations as they had mandated the Union to represent them till the negotiations come to a conclusion.
”We are working on their mandate and we do not feel we have to brief them on the way negotiations are going each and every time we have a meeting with the management of BTC,” he said.
Asked if they knew how many of their members would be affected by the exercise, Kebalefetse said that they did not know the number just as the management of BTC did not.
”This might not sound to be true but it is true that they had failed to give us the number of employees or our members who will be affected,” he said.
Kebalefetse was not able to say how the issue was affecting the morale of their employees but only said, “That will be difficult to tell. “
On the other hand, some BTC employees who spoke to The Sunday Standard said that the seemingly endless talks were heavily affecting their morale in that they did not know what awaited them and when it would come.
”I can tell you that this is adversely affecting our morale as employees of this corporation as we do not know what the future holds for us. This will be the case with every employee who finds himself in the situation we are in,” said one employee of the Corporation who preferred to remain anonymous.
On the statement by Kebalefetse that they did not have to inform their members on the way negotiations were going from time to time, another employee of the Corporation, who also preferred anonymity, said that he strongly felt that they had to be informed on the way the negotiations are progressing and that the current situation where they are kept in the dark is wrong.
”I am of the view that they should be informing us on the progress in the negotiations and not to keep us in the dark like is the case now,” he said.
The Union representing the manual workers of the Corporation, the National Amalgamated Local Central Government and Parastatal Workers Union, long accepted the offer from the BTC. Their Secretary General, Johnson Motshwarakgole, said they had agreed to the offer because it was a better offer compared to what the first retrenchees were given.
He was quick to point out that they were against retrenchment but that they had learnt to accept the reality.