Want housing lease agreement reviewed
Want alternative employment
Minister takes ex-miners’ demands to Cabinet
The Union representing former BCL employees, Botswana Mine Workers Union, recently met with minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security, Sadique Kebonang to discuss their grievances.
The meeting was held in Gaborone on August 28. The former employees want government to offer them alternative employment. All employees of the BCL who were terminated at the date of liquidation of the mine were entitled to remain in BCL housing rent-free, in accordance with the12 months lease agreement signed.
However, provisional liquidator Nigel Dixon-Warren wrote to them what will happen on November 1. All former employees have the first option to remain in the housing after October 31 but will be required to sign a new lease with effect from November 1.
Also former employees may remain in the houses for three months from November 1 but will be required to pay a nominal rental, which will be dependent on what type of house they occupy and whether it is a hostel room in a low-density area.
“Should you wish to leave earlier than January 31 next year, you can do so by giving necessary notice,” says the liquidator. The charges for high density houses are between P300 and P400, while low density ones are between P1 500 and P3000.
According to Dixon-Warren, former employees wishing to continue to rent the houses after February 1 next year will be required to pay a commercial rental, which will be payable in advance and on a monthly basis. As for those staying in hostel rooms, they will be charged P100 per month.
The condition is that if they want to stay until January 31, 2018 their lease will be for three months and if they want to stay beyond, their lease will be for two years. Those in hostels wanting to stay after the end of October are expected to occupy the houses personally.
Former employees want Kebonang to review the Housing Lease agreement signed with the provisional liquidator to offer a minimum of six months to allow for the engagement to conclude.
During the meeting with Kebonang, unionists asked him to offer them alternative employment as they were under pressure to pay their debts and to sustain their families. “Some banks have taken us to sheriffs and they are after us day and night. They don’t listen when we tell them we haven’t found employment,” said one of them.
Unionists are pleading with government to increase repayment for settlement of bank loans during which period interest on loans is frozen. It was also said that the issue of payment of retrenchment packages must be resolved amicably between the parties.
Further, former employees asked for government to continue paying maintenance wages and costs of medical care to those injured on duty until the process has been completed. As for the Care and Maintenance crew, the request is for government to review employment terms and conditions to afford them special conditions in line with nature of their engagement.
“They are not paid overtime, contrary to what they had been promised that they will flow with their normal BCL contract,” said a union member. Currently there are around 400 staff members under Care and Maintenance at the closed BCL mine and 30 at Tati Nickel mine.
In response, minster Kebonang promised to submit the demands to Cabinet for consideration.
He further undertook to return to the Union with feedback on Cabinet decision at a meeting set for September 20.
Botswana Guardian visited Selebi-Phikwe last week. In an interview, a woman in her late 50s said that her husband has found a job at Orapa mine three months back.
She had to remain in Selebi-Phikwe with their three children, two of which are still schooling. She says that he visits every end of the month.
A man in his mid 30s said they now pay for their own water bills. Meanwhile some former employees said they have also formed prayer groups to encourage one another.
“We still have faith that BCL mine will reopen and that they will employ us again,” said one of the women.