KBL lays off 26 in retrenchment

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  • More jobs to be cut this year
  • Union accuses the company of flouting labour laws

TSHIAMO TABANE

Kgalagadi Breweries Limited (KBL) has confirmed that the retrenchment process at its Botswana operations has commenced following its decision to close some of its operations in the country.
The Botswana Gazette understands that the first batch of around 26 KBL employees were recently served with retrenchment letters, and KBL Communications Manager Masegonyana Madisa confirmed this week that following reports and an announcement that the company wants to cut its staff, the retrenchment process has started.
Botswana Beverages and Allied Workers Union has meanwhile accused KBL of unfair labour practices, saying the company did not adequately engage employees and their union before executing the retrenchment. “As the union we are not informed that the retrenchment process will start this year. We just heard that some employees have been given retrenchment letters and the retrenchment will be implemented this year, following the last year reports of job losses at the company,”  the Union Administrative Officer Magdeline Loeto said. She raised concerns that KBL decided to start the retrenchment process before a final decision was agreed with the workers union. “We had a meeting with KBL management last year and during our discussion a final decision on the retrenchment issue was not reached. We are shocked that when the company opened this year we heard that some employees have been served with retrenchment letters,” she said.
Another unionist from Botswana Beverages and Allied Workers Union Sechele Sechele said KBL employees from Kanye and Maun were given retrenchment letters last month indicating that they should not come to work with effect from 1st April 2018 as part of the on-going retrenchment process. More employees from Palapye operations will be retrenched at the end of this month. Sechele emphasized that the union is not happy with how KBL is carrying out the retrenchment process, saying Kanye employees were not informed about the retrenchment. “KBL employees in Kanye were given retrenchment letters and told never to come to work the same day in which they were informed about the retrenchment process, contrary to labour laws that employees should be given 3 months notice,” said Sechele.
He said the union heard reports that KBL also wants to close some of its operations among them Mageu plant, which could result with more retrenchments at the company.
KBL Communications Manager, Madisa confirmed that KBL decided to retrench following its decision to shut down some of its operations. Asked to give more details on the number of expected job losses, operations to be closed and what motivated the closure of some KBL plants in Botswana, Madisa insisted that the reporter should send a questionnaire which he however had not responded to before press time on Monday.
KBL’s parent company Sechaba Brewery Holdings Limited had earlier raised concerns that the regulatory environment in Botswana had caused KBL profits to slump. Government’s decision to increase alcohol by 55 percent in 2014 had an upward pressure on the prices of KBL alcohol beverages, resulting with decline in purchasing of the company’s products, according to the company’s previous financial reports.

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