Majwe Mining Joint Venture, a company contracted by Debswana at the Jwaneng diamond mine Cut 8 Project, has been dragged to court for exploiting miners who are said to be forced to work without being paid overtime allowances.
Last week 386 miners dragged Majwe Mining to Gaborone High Court in their bid to compel it to pay them the overtime allowance owed to them.
It emerged from court papers that since 2012, Majwe Mining refused to increase overtime payment for the miners after the Commissioner of Labour granted it an exemption allowing it to increase work time to beyond 12 hours daily. In the court papers filed at High Court, the law firm representing the employees, Collins Chilisa Consultants, stated that in computing miners’ overtime entitlement, the employer has been utilizing average hours over four weeks’ cycle, as opposed to average hours over a period of three weeks. “In terms of section 97(1) as read with section 37(1) of the employment act, the employees’ overtime entitlement is to be computed by utilizing average hours over a period of three weeks and not over the four weeks as the employer is doing. Consequently, the manner of computation of the employees’ overtime entitlement is unlawful. As a result of the unlawful manner of computing overtime, employees have been paid less overtime than they are entitled to,” states the law firm.
The law firm argues that the exception by Commissioner of Labour which allows the unlawful manner of computing the overtime is doubtful. Majwe Mining which requested the Commissioner of Labour for the exemption to have its employees working extended hours in a project to carry out waste removal works at Jwaneng Mine as per their contract with Debswana-denying that it has acted contrary to Employment Act. Majwe Mining Human Resources Manager Daniel Malumbela indicated that they implemented the exemption as granted by the Commissioner of Labor and for the past five years the employees neither failed to adhere to the schedule nor challenge its validity.
Majwe Mining won the P3.7 billion contract to remove waste at Debswana Jwaneng diamond mine to allow miners to reach more diamonds. The contract which expired last year was extended with two years covering 2017 and 2018.