Thursday, March 4, 2021

Union allays fears of job losses at Debswana’s OLDM

Botswana Miners Workers Union (BMWU) President Joseph Tsimako has allayed fears over job losses at Debswana’s Orapa Letlhakane and Damtshaa Mines(OLDM).

The assurance from the unionist comes after the mines announced looming retrenchment of over 500 employees last year. 

The retrenchment notice came on the backdrop of permanent closure of the 48-year-old Orapa Number 1 Plant and Damtshaa Mine both which have been put under care and maintenance.


In an interview with the Sunday Standard last week Tsimako said the union has reached an agreement with Debswana management to reduce the envisaged 500 number and further save jobs.


“The mine announced that it will retrench over 500 employees after the closure of the Number 1 plant and Damtshaa mine. However, they were available positions that have been vacant all along. Over 100 employees have already been earmarked to fill the vacant posts. As per our negotiations no one is bound to lose their job,” he assured.


Although he could not provide exact figures, Tsimako revealed that the union had a cordial agreement with Debswana management to implement a Voluntary Separation Strategy where employees are encouraged leave work voluntarily and take their packages. 

He said a high number of employees have shown interest and tendered applications in that regard. Tsimako emphasized the Volunteer Separation Strategy will also be open at Jwaneng Mine


“The Volunteer Separation Strategy will help create even more vacant positions to be filled. As for now we do not see any retrenchment happening. There will be no worker who will be left with no job,” Tsimako said.


Asked about the union’s position regarding the termination of the Cut 9 multi-billion contract between Debswana Diamond Company and Majwe Mining he said they are still yet to meet management of the two companies. 

Majwe mining has been given a three-month notice of termination effective on the 4th of January to 4 of April 2021.


According to BMWU press release, on the 9th of January 2021 they had an emergency meeting with Majwe Mining and Debswana to inform workers on the latest development. Several issues including continuation of the cut 9 project, the hybrid mining method, absorption of Majwe mining workers and the establishment of the transition team during the notice period comprising of personnel from Majwe mining and Debswana to facilitate a smooth transition was discussed.


BMWU is however not happy that Majwe mining management failed to disclose the number of workers who will be absorbed by Debswana.

The Union is also of the view that the decision to terminate Majwe Mining contract is in line with Debswana and its group of companies’ “Radical transformation strategy” whose aim is to introduce mechanized mining in a bid to reduce costs. 

BMWU has expressed concern over this move as it will have an impact on employment. “What I can only reveal now is that we are yet to meet management of these companies in February to thrash out all these issues,” said Tsimako.

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