As Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) management continue to grapple with efforts to bring the parastatal to profitability, employees from the company’s Francistown plant currently under care and maintenance, remain a headache.
Though a hundred of the employees have been absorbed at the Maun and Lobatse plant, BMC is yet to find opportunities for 115 employees, whose future hangs in the balance following the restructuring. “We have since decided to find more opportunities for these 115 that have remained, whether under BMC or somewhere else,” said Brian Dioka, BMC spokesperson. “However achieving zero job losses is unheard off and impossible, though we were not too eager to pull the trigger.” He said management is sitting around the table with the shareholders to find solution for the employees by end of February 2019, as the company faces a cost exposure of eight million pula per annum from the idle 115 workers and care and maintenance cost.
“It’s a big relief on BMC’s balance sheet,” said Dioka highlighting that the meat company has been reeling on the red over the past years. He said the BMC management needs to be imaginative and is embarking on extreme cost cutting measures, as it also accommodates the increased wage bills for Lobatse and Maun following the absorption of the 100 employees from Francistown abattoir. Austerity measures implementation has seen BMC move away from feedlot business that was draining the parastatal 100 million pula per three- month circle. “It is an opportunity for us to offset some operational cost,” said Dioka, reiterating that the proposed restructuring is meant to find areas of improvement within the company.
“We have to be a low-cost producer,” asserted Dioka, adding that BMC can unlock more value once it seriously and deliberately reduces its cost. Dioka said BMC and the workers’ union were always in sync on the proposed restructuring, dismissing any loggerheads. “It was never an issue; it’s just on the modality that we were discussing. Restructuring was an approved decision before we met the shareholder,” said Dioka. Dioka said the management and stakeholders have agreed to keep eleven employees at the Francistown abattoir to ensure the assets are safely kept from being dilapidated by either natural or unnatural forces.
Meanwhile, government has already written off loans of 400 million plus for BMC, as part of efforts to improve the company’s financial position and Dioka is optimistic the development will help the restructuring process.“We are now in a better position to engage any partner. BMC is now in a desired business state. Without shareholder intervention, this restructuring could not have been possible,” said Dioka. Apart from writing off loans, government also gave BMC 124 million for operations while 30 million pula was used mainly for the Francistown restructuring exercise.