Despite measures to mitigate job losses during the State of Emergency (SoE), the Ministry of Employment, Labour Productivity and Skills Development has received 320 retrenchment notifications from different businesses, leading to 204 workers being axed between April 2020 and July 2021.
He said the retrenchments came as a result of businesses struggling to keep their normal operations going due to the restrictions adopted by the government to curb the spread of COVID-19.
He said although there were regulations meant to prohibit retrenchments or dismissal of employees during the SoE, some companies were unable to retain staff due to closure of businesses or loss of revenue.
Balopi explained that some of the companies that submitted applications to retrench eventually went back against their plans following discussions with authorities. He bemoaned that some companies went ahead and dismissed workers without following the right processes.
“There are those businesses that did not follow the law. We have cases that were reported to us and we would like to appeal to those who did not report to come forward,” Balopi said.
“There are also businesses that wanted to retrench but following discussions with authorities and being shown the law and other options they have apart from retrenchment, they reviewed their decisions.”
He stated that they have derived plans on exiting the SoE at the end of September to mitigate against job losses.
He said there are plans to amend some sections of the Employment Act as well as the Trade Dispute Act to give the minister powers to make regulations that will govern the procedures that must be followed for smoothening issues of employment and labour relations.
“For example, we will provide regulations on how to deal with issues of quarantine, sick leaves and workers compensation, during that period,” he said.
Balopi said amongst some of the things they have planned include setting up an inspection team made up of representatives of the tripartite. The tripartite includes labour unions, Business Botswana and government.
The other plan is to engage more mediators to speed up the process of disposing of labour disputes, as there are currently too many cases.
Balopi also said they will set up a committee responsible for monitoring that the agreed guidelines on the Botswana Decent Work Country Programme are followed.
He added that above all, there should be a consistent social dialogue between social partners in order to reduce labour disputes post the SoE.