Botswana faces an electricity crisis as tensions between the Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) and its workers union reach breaking point.
Botswana Power Corporation Workers Union (BPCWU) has already received a mandate from staff to pursue “the [power] struggle” through other means beyond negotiations if needs be.
BPCWU secretary general, Gonaone Marumoagae disclosed this week that they are about “to exhaust all channels of negotiation” with the employer, and will resort to picketing. “If not for the state of emergency we would go for an outright strike”.
BPC management is expected to make an urgent court application to prohibit the union from mobilising members to engage in any form of industrial action.
The standoff between the BPC and its union escalated into a game of brinkmanship this week after the two parties failed to break their deadlock over cost of living negotiations. The two parties met in Gaborone last week and neither was willing to climb down.
Marumoagae issued a press statement that: “It is with deep sense of sadness that we Botswana Power Corporation Workers’ Union announce that there has been a disagreement with the employer at the negotiation [table] over an adjustment of the cost of living.”
He said this had occasioned a mandate from members to pursue “the [power] struggle” through other means beyond the negotiations if needs be. He explained that the BPC embarked on a restructuring exercise that was intended to reduce the size of the organisation, but they only increased the number of employees from 2032 to 2187 – many of new positions which are not essential to the business.
He indicated that such appointments are usually questionable, with a clear sign of nepotism. He further stated that what hurts the most is the fact the corporation continues to outsource jobs that can easily be done internally.
This move, it is alleged, led to the company bleeding cash while still paying salaries for the same work. He further said if there was no money, the corporation would stop the “senseless multi-million-pula tenders” which are usually awarded to friends and associates.
The statement also said the BPC diverted money that was earmarked for a five-year transformation strategy known as (MASA 2020). The strategy was conceived to turn the BPC financial fortunes around. It further emerged from the press statement that the strategy had identified only three services to be outsourced being security, cleaning and fleet services.
In a brief press statement, the BPC spokesperson Dineo Seleke said: “I wish to advise that the Corporation is not in a position to discuss its internal matters with staff on a public forum.”