Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) is continuing to bleed cash losses, as management and stakeholders fail to conclude ongoing restructuring of the parastatal that was expected by end of August.BMC management has been engaged in negotiations with Botswana Meat Industry Workers Union (BMIWU) regarding retrenchment of employees especially from the Francistown abattoir.
The union is said to have expressed disappointment at the manner in which the BMC management want to fast track the restructuring without considering the extent at which this would impact workers.One of the outstanding issues has been that initially the restructuring was to affect the Francistown plant only but things have changed and all the BMC plants are now affected. Brian Dioka, BMC spokesperson has allayed fears that the delay is due to a stalemate on negotiations between management and union on the intended restructuring.
“We have not achieved much in getting to finality, we agree with the union that having a plant running in Francistown without production is a painful cost,” said Dioka citing that the abattoir has been idle since October last year.Last month BMC told Botswana Guardian that the parastatal has hatched a plan to place its loss making Francistown plant under care and maintenance to save the parastatal a whopping P35 million every year.
The decision came after government, the main shareholder, approved restructuring request and disbursed a budget in excess of P30 million. Sources within BMC have indicated that a stalemate has ensued over packages, but Dioka has dismissed the claims.“We never differed but modalities of getting it (restructuring) completed have stalled the process,” said Dioka.
Currently BMC has kept a skeleton staff at the Francistown abattoir to ensure the premises are not vandalised and machines are running while most are earning salaries from home, a worrying situation to BMC.“We just have to find ways to finalise. These are not cheap employees, they are paid industry standard salaries,” said Dioka, adding that although the process is taking long conclusion will be reached.
BMIWU Chairman Negro Thebe could not be reached for comment at press time even though he had agreed to the interview.Secretary General of Botswana Federation of Trade Unions (BFTU) where BMIWU affiliates Thusang Butale told this publication that they are assisting BMIWU in the whole process. He explained that currently they are waiting for a report from the affiliate on progress.
“As things stand now we know the negotiation is still ongoing and our affiliate would accordingly give us the report. The delay, we understand, has been caused by the fact that the process which initially focused on the Francistown Plant has now been extended to other BMC office. What we have been given so far is that negotiations have not been exhausted and we would give BMIWU the chance and when there’s need for us to join the fray we would do so,” said Butale who added that they engage BMIWU from time to time.