The region’s largest diamond factory Teemane Manufacturing Company (TMC) in Serowe was on Monday forced to shut down after crumbling down to the diamond market volatility. TMC co-owner Marvin Lifshitz said their operations have long indicated that there is no hope for the 20 years old diamond polishing company.
“The move to close was purely informed by the company’s performance.” Lifshitz could not go into detail to discuss how the company has been performing or be convinced to discuss his profits and losses. “I am not at liberty to disclose some of the information on our operations but reasons of closure are purely commercial,” he said. However the company’s closure will be more painful for the employees who were utterly shocked this week to learn of the turn of events.
The company has 320 citizen employees who are trained to polish a wide variety of goods while keeping the highest standards of finish.
All the employees will not only lose their monthly income but also medical, educational, sport and recreation programmes that were offered by the company. These numbers will be adding on to the 19.8 percent unemployment rate. Speaking during an interview the Botswana Diamond Workers Union Secretary Neo Pilatwe said they got the shock of their lives when they learned this week that the company is closing down. Narrating the events, Pilatwe said when they were supposed to open in January they were later informed that they would open on February 2, the same day they learned that the company was closing its operations.
In their negotiations with management, Pilatwe said they were told that the company has not been making any profits and efforts to sell the company were fruitless. “Due to their sudden announcement we have asked them to give us six-month notice as we were never prepared for this.” She added that the company has not been transparent about its operations since 2013.
The union has proposed that every employee should be paid a severance package, which is multiplied by four month per year and the number of years one has in the company. She added that they have asked for transport allowance, health check and a six-month re-employment opportunity in case the company opens. “The challenge we have is that they are trying to put us under pressure, but we want this to be done right.”