- Urges fulfilment of Collective Labour Agreement with BCL Mine
- Appeals for debt relief and conveyance of bank loans to govt
Six years after liquidation of BCL Mine, the Botswana Mine Workers Union (BMWU) says it is still expecting government to fulfil the Collective Labour Agreement entered into by the union and BCL management.
Briefing President Mokgweetsi Masisi on Monday on the situation since the liquidation process started six years ago, the president of BMWU, Joseph Tsimako, said the liquidation process did not result in payment of workers’ retrenchment benefits in accordance with the collective labour agreements concluded with BCL.
Tsimako told the President that although there was a commitment from the government to provide an 18 months soft landing package, the commitment was not fulfilled and there has not been a clear direction from the government since.
“We submit that there was a legitimate expectation by employees that the government would keep its promise,” he said. “Although we fully understand that the government was not party to the collective labour agreement, we believe that those agreements created obligations. As such, as the sole shareholder in BCL and agent of the people, the government was and is still expected to fulfil the terms of those agreements.”
Regarding post-termination benefits, Tsimako submitted that the government should also commit to clear all debts incurred by former BCL employees. He identified the termination benefits that BMWU wants the government to clear as releasing former BCL employees in civil imprisonment, clearing them from black listing for indebtedness and clearing all their debts, including their bank loans, among others.
In a subsequent interview with The Gazette, Tsimako said although the government was notified of the collective labour agreement at the time, it is now using the Labour Act as an excuse. “Prior to liquidation, employees were warned of intent to retrench,” he said. “But while waiting for retrenchment, they received news that the mine was being placed under liquidation and therefore no provision of benefits.”
“The government told us only retrenchment has benefits. During our engagement with President Masisi this week, we submitted our proposal again and we were told to wait for a response. We are hoping that the government will fulfil the promises made in 2016 when the mine was closed.”
The MP for Selibe-Phikwe West, Dithapelo Keorapetse, has called for a review of the liquidation law in order to prevent a similar situation in the future. The revised law should be crafted in such a way that liquidators are not enriched at the expense of Batswana’s taxpayers, Keorapetse emphasised.
“The reviewed law should ensure that employees benefit from the liquidation process as they do in retrenchment,” he said in an interview.