SELEBI-PHIKWE: As the end of the year approaches, BCL mine employees are yet to know the outcome of this year’s wage negotiations as Botswana Mine Workers Union and BCL management talks rage on.
Progress in the wage negotiations is still held up by the union’s demand for last year’s agreement on the new salary structure and terms of reference while the mine is hamstrung by its current financial status and performance to implement some of the agreements.
The parties signed an agreement in which a pay structure review would have been undertaken in accordance with the terms of reference and the project plan developed by a joint task team end of December 2014. However the parties have failed to agree on terms of reference that are a critical step in the process.
According to last year’s wage agreements, the pay structure review project could run beyond the scope of the substantive agreement and be completed in accordance with the project plan. The parties also agreed to have the findings of the pay structure review presented to the Joint Negotiation Council in accordance with the recognition and procedure agreement.
BCL also committed itself to gradually adjusting the annual bonus from the current five percent to 8.33 percent of annual basic salary over a period of three years from the date of agreement. The distribution of the adjustment for the period was to be determined by the mine in accordance with the mandate given by the Board of Directors.
The two have since agreed during one of their meetings recently to engage 21 Century Consultants to give their opinion on the salary structure review.
The union maintains that until the issue of salary structure is finalised and agreement made on the terms of reference, that is when negotiations for this year’s salary increase can be discussed.
The union’s vice president, Joseph Tsimako, said they want the whole process to be fast-tracked so that the salary increase for this year can be discussed. The mine and the union finalised last year’s wage dispute in September 2014 and adjustment of salaries and back pays were implemented the same month.
On the agreed annual bonuses that are supposed to be increased gradually until they reach 8.33 percent in three years, the mine has indicated that they cannot make any increase this year. ”We want management to demonstrate and present a plan to us as to how they are going to effect an increase to meet the obligations, so that it does not accumulate and cause tension between us in 2017,” he said.
The mine management through its public relations and marketing manager, James Molosankwe, indicated during a recent interview that the union and BCL are parties to a substantive agreement of wages that was signed last year and that they agreed to set up a task team to help review the structure and formulate recommendations for considerations, but they could not agree on the terms of reference that are a critical step in this process. The mine also confirmed that negotiations on other conditions are continuing.