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Coronavirus has disrupted our lives

It now sounds like a cliché to say coronavirus pandemic has affected almost all economic sectors.

The monster has arrived, conquered and subdued.

Early in June 2020, when majority of Batswana emerged from the first ever lockdown in this country, we informed our readers that the media industry was not spared by this global scourge.

We pointed out that household brands across the world have closed shop! Major brands were shutting down because there is no business to support continuation of these magazines and newspapers.

Unfortunate publications went to print for the last time in May 2020 and it was over. And the trend is still there, as media houses continue to close shop every week across the world. The situation is dire, as livelihoods have been disrupted! Botswana private media did not generate income for 48 days after President Mokgweetsi Masisi announced the national lockdown on April 2, 2020.

To make matters worse, another lockdown was announced for Greater Gaborone for two weeks beginning of June 2020. A majority of businesses lost opportunities to generate income during that period. When Gaborone sneezes, the rest of the country catches flu as the popular saying goes! 

Unfortunately, majority of employees in the private sector have been receiving memos to the effect that they will not be paid salaries because of the prevailing circumstances the companies find themselves in, thanks to COVID-19.

For instance, the publishers of Mmegi and The Monitor newspapers paid their employees 100% salaries for April and May 2020, mitigated by Botswana Unified Revenue Service

(BURS) wage subsidy. This is despite the fact that the publishing companies were not earning revenue from advertising and copy sales. The BURS wage subsidy amounted to a barely third of the wage bill.

It was a different ball game all together in August 2020 as the employers claimed they could only pay half salaries as final pay for the month.

Under the current circumstances, it is very difficult situation to be an employer as it also tough to be an employee.

But all the employers in the world need to learn how to communicate such unfortunate situations with their employees well on time. We are not talking about our employer here, but all the employers out there.

It is an unfortunate development that majority of the companies find themselves in but if the companies are in financial distress, it will be difficult to argue against their position. That point the employees understand very well, but companies should learn to advise employees well on time.

It is reasonable for the employees to go bananas if they are told they are not going to be paid all their dues after rendering their services. Otherwise the employer is expected to comply with fair procedure and not abuse their dominant position.

Today’s thought

“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.”

 – Marie Curie


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