Botswana Railways’ retrenchment process gets underway this week when, beginning this Wednesday, employees undergo counselling.
A letter from Isaac Gaolekane, the Human Resources Manager, says all employees will be counselled “to mitigate the emotional impact that this exercise may cause to employees. A consultant has been engaged to undertake this important assignment.” The actual laying off of employees (or ‘separation’ in the gentler, more compassionate language of counselling used in the letter) will be completed on December 15 this year.
As part of this exercise, earlier in the year, the organisation reviewed its organisational structure, job profiles and grading system. The new organisational structure has been unveiled. The new departments are General Management, Operations and Engineering, Human Capital, Business Development as well as Finance and Corporate Services. The current and soon-to-be-phased-out structure comprises of Finance, Corporate Services, Operations, Mechanical Services, Marketing and General Management. The Chief Executive Officer, Dominic Ntwayagae, has already undertaken a line tour of BR installations across the country.
In all, some 147 yet-unidentified BR employees are to be retrenched. Gaolekane’s letter says that the next stage of the process will be formation of a Transition Team that will implement the exercise, first by drawing up terms of reference that will guide the process.
“Heads of Departments have been requested to nominate candidates for the transition team. The team will then be inducted to enable them to execute the required mandate. The Team will be provided with the action plan and schedule,” says the letter, adding that management and the Botswana Railways Workers Union have already agreed on a time-lined plan of action “to ensure adherence to schedule and due processes and procedures.”
The retrenchment has been largely necessitated by the automation of the organisation’s information systems. The Rolling Stock Information System (RSIS) was introduced in 2008 at a cost of P200 million by an Australian company called Ansaldo. Alongside this automation, an earlier restructuring exercise rendered some positions obsolete.