BPC, Workers Clash over Wages

TLOTLO KEBINAKGABO

State owned power distributor, Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) has locked horns with its employees over an inflationary adjustment, the workers Union has said.

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It was announced through a statement from the Botswana Power Corporation Workers’ Union (BPCWU). The statement was released yesterday (July 14) and signed by General Secretary Ganaone Marumoagae.

According to the statement, BPC workers understand that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected companies and their revenues. That being the case, they believe it is not a good enough reason for BPC management to refuse to make inflationary adjustments, considering then rising cost of living.

The Union is of the view that BPC can afford to pay for an inflationary adjustment because the Corporation recently received a P500 million subsidy, which they believe must also cater for staff welfare.

“The BPC also embarked on a restructuring exercise which was intended to reduce the size of the organisation, but it rather increased the numbers of employees from 2032 to 2187 and many of these new positions are not essential to the business,” argues BPCWU.

“The appointments are also questionable with a clear indication of nepotism. In effect, there is an ample reason to believe positions are created merely to reward friends and family, in the process making the BPC structure bloated. The financial difficulties are therefore as a result of mismanagement of resources.”

BPCWU further argues that despite additional positions at BPC, the Corporation continuously outsource jobs that can be done internally.

“This leads to the company bleeding cash while still paying salaries for the same work,” reads a statement from BPCWU. If there was no money, the corporation would stop this senseless multi-million pula tenders awarded to friends and families. A good number of line extensions for instance, are given to companies on the basis affiliations, and the charges are exorbitant.”

The BPC Workers Union also accuses the Corporation of lack of aligning to its five year transformation strategy (MASA 2020), which was meant to positively turn around the Corporation’s financial position.

“They have since diverted from the strategy, this is because the strategy had identified only three services for outsourcing being security, cleaning and fleet services,” BPCWU stated.

He said BPC outsources jobs in areas which were not identified for outsourcing.

According to the Union, proceeds from the recent 22 percent tariff increase should support not only companies chosen by management but also workers. The union had requested an inflationary adjustment instead of a salary increase.

 “We therefore announce that we are about to exhaust all channels of negotiation with the employer, and therefore are about to resort to picketing,” BPCWU states. “If not for the state of emergency we would go for an outright strike. We call upon the Government of Botswana to act and rein in the BPC Management. The energy sector in this country is in crisis largely due to management failure. The failures of BPC and even the Petroleum sector are the failures of government.”