The Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) has hatched a plan to place its loss making Francistown plant under care and maintenance to save the parastatal a whopping P35 million annually.Brian Dioka, BMC spokesperson said the decision is in line with efforts to reengineer the company into a profit-making entity.
According to Dioka, the BMC’s Francistown abattoir gobbles over P40 million annually in cash losses while placing the plant under care and maintenance will require P5 million annually thereby saving P35 million per year. Dioka said the beef producer will look into positions available within its three plants – Lobatse, Maun and Francistown - to absorb employees on shutting down of operations in Francistown.
“Our shareholder (government) has approved our request and assigned us (management) to go and restructure BMC, consultations with internal stakeholders are ongoing to find a common ground including negotiations with workers union,” said Dioka highlighting that government has given BMC management budget in excess of P30 million for the restructuring.
The restructuring exercise is expected to be complete by end of August and once the Francistown plant is under care and maintenance, it will act as backup facility for the Lobatse plant. Quizzed on potential retrenchments, Dioka remained cagey and said consultations with internal stakeholders will guide the restructuring process.
“Not everyone will be absorbed, but we have employees that are almost reaching retirement and others that will voluntarily opt for packages. We cannot deny that people may be affected, the biggest casualty is inefficiency and multi- activities,” said Dioka. “We are not restructuring to retrench but to make BMC efficient,” he added. Dioka is optimistic that BMC could finally be saying goodbye to losses and inefficiency after restructuring.
“We could get the profits that Batswana have been yearning for at BMC,” said Dioka. He said the farming community should also play part in making the company profitable. Botswana Meat Industry Workers Union Chairman, Negro Thebe told this publication that as far as he knows the restructuring exercise has been put on hold until the BMD Board scrutinises the whole process.
Thebe explained that during consultations it has been agreed that the board would have to scrutinise the exercise to ensure that everything is done by the book and no one is disadvantaged by the process. “As the union we believe that following the closure of the Francistown plant some of the 241 employees there should be considered for absorption in Lobatse looking at their skill and experience.
We had about 153 temporary employees who were engaged and their contracts have since come to an end and we believe there could still be room to accommodate most of the staff from Francistown plant. In Lobatse we have about 41 employees who are not fit for work due to ill health and our contention is that they have to be given a good package as and when they are relieved of their duties,” Thebe revealed expressing faith that the negotiations which are currently progressing will end on a good note.
Currently BMC records P80 million to P90 million losses attributed to opportunistic diseases like measles. Meanwhile privatisation of BMC is ongoing following approval by government in March 2018. PEEPA is looking at the best method to commercialise BMC whose main active plant, Lobatse, is old and may not attract sizeable equity once put up for privatisation.