Labour officials finally intervene in Galane Gold retrenchment

FRANCISTOWN: After a period of hesitation, the Department of Labour has agreed to intervene in the retrenchment dispute at Galane Gold. Galane management, the District Labour Officer, Oleseng Kenalemang and Galane branch of the Botswana Mine Workers Union (BWMU) have said that labour officials will mediate in the dispute on March 28.

Nearly two weeks ago, the labour officials distanced themselves from the dispute saying that it is an issue between the employer and the employee. This was after mine employees, through the BWMU Galane Gold branch wrote a letter to the Department of Labour seeking its intervention in the exercise meant to retrench 90 employees. But BMWU Galane Gold branch secretary, Setlalekgosi Kooreme has said that labour officials had a change of mind late last week after a meeting with union officials. "We met with labour officials late last week. At first, they did not understand the contents of the letter we wrote to them. That is why they did not want to intervene. They thought we were merely opposing the retrenchments without any substantial reasons. But after we communicated with them in detail, they agreed to intervene," he stated. Galane Gold management have confirmed that there will be a mediation session conducted by labour officials on March 28. "We have been advised by the Labour Department of the mediation hearing. The union is entitled to raise this issue with the Labour Department and although we are disappointed they (union) have done so (in asking for the intervention), we will continue to adhere to the process as required," human resources manager at Galane Gold, Vincent Mothupi said.

Meanwhile, a meeting between the union and the Minister of Mineral Energy and Water Resources, Kitso Mokaila scheduled for last Monday did not take place according to Kooreme. Union members wrote a letter to the minister two weeks ago seeking his intervention regarding the retrenchment."The minister recently called us (union members) and requested that the meeting be held on Thursday (today)," Kooreme said. The mine has defended the retrenchment as a cost-cutting exercise while employees believe that other measures can be sought to cut operating costs without shedding jobs.

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