Thursday, October 28, 2021

Retrenched BCL workers will breathe with their overdues in sight

The Board of Trustees of the BCL Staff Pension Fund has announced that it will start paying former BCL employees their pension benefits.  

The board, through asset manager, AON Botswana in partnership with BancABC is said to have began the process to roll out payment for the employees who lost their jobs at the copper nickel mine in October 2016. 

In a statement widely published in the local media recently, the board of trustees says that because of the large volume of payments to issue out, the undertaking will have the schedule of payments dispatched through Short Message Services (SMS) to the former employees stating specific time of payment. 

“Members are also requested to strictly adhere to their allocated dates and times to manage congestion and wasting time,” reads part of the statement.

The Fund which was established five years ago has over 4 300 members who worked at the BCL mine and the money is from members who contributed five percent of their monthly salaries, together with the 10 percent which was BCL Limited. 

In November 2007, CAS Consultants, an international consultancy company, warned the government that if it did not take any action aimed at diversifying the economy of Selebi-Phikwe it risked prospects of a “revolution”. 

In its bulky report delivered to the government, the consultants stated nine strategic points adding that “doing nothing is not an option”. 

The implication of the closure of the BCL Mine would, in the absence of diversification programme, be severe. The consultants warned that the loss of employment would directly affect thousands of Batswana. 

Fast forward to October 2016, the government, which is the sole shareholder of the BCL mine, put the mine together with Tati Copper Nickel mine under provisional liquidation due to non-profitability. As a result close to 6 000 employees were laid off. 

The closure also follows the pressure that copper mines in the country found themselves in following reduced commodity prices. 

Two other companies, African Copper’s Mowana Mine and Discovery Metals, also liquidated in 2015. On the other hand, BCL incurred a 1.2 billion Pula loss in operating costs in 2015 also linked to low commodity prices as well as financial mismanagement.

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