One of Botswana’s leading plastic manufacturers, Kgalagadi Plastic Industries is losing employees, Botswana Guardian has learnt. Impeccable sources from the company factory reveal that at least five people resign from KPI every month. Over the years, there have been concerns and complaints from staff members over pending issues that management is constantly accused of overlooking. In an interview with BG News employees listed the following as their cries.
The latest from the company is the labour dispute between the union representing workers, Botswana Textile, Manufacturing and Packaging Workers Union and management last month. The two parties have been at each other’s throat over staff salary increment since May this year. Contrary to the 10 percent that the Union had proposed, a six percent increase was announced this week, which employees had no choice but to accept. An irate staff member informed this publication that employees work on three shifts (eight hours) at P5.35 per hour. “We had asked for an increase of P1.50 because the money we get is not enough to help us with our daily living,” he said, explaining that management settled for 42thebe increase instead.
Staff members complain that the company is refusing to buy them a mini-kombi to assist with transporting them during the night. This, according to a union member, has been their request for over a decade. “We fear being attacked by criminals on our way to and from work,” explained one man, adding that they have resorted to going home in groups during night shift. One of the female employees mocked management for having not learned from a recent incident in Gaborone, Block 6 whereby a female staffer of Spar was murdered when walking to her house from work at night. There are also complaints over lack of safety equipment and worn out uniforms. “We only have mouth caps but the dust is too much. Some of us suffer from respiratory conditions as a result. Also our overalls are worn-out,” he added.
Tea-break time short
Unlike other companies, employees of KPI go for tea break for only 15 minutes (10am-10:15am), something they view as abusive. A former employee said efforts to get management to increase it to 30 minutes never worked. “We were worse than prisoners at that company,” he stated. However, lunch hour remains standard (1pm-2pm). KPI general manager Krunal Sinha had not responded to questions sent to him last month. Administration officer Neo Maje could not be drawn into an interview, saying KPI directors do not allow them to discuss the company with the media. She however said she was going to take it up with supervisors from the factory. KPI is a big company with close to 200 employees. Its headquarters are in Botswana and it has branches in South Africa and Angola.