JWANENG: In a peaceful demonstration, Majwe Mine employees have handed a petition to acting district commissioner, Bonakele Nyoni, protesting poor working conditions, low salaries and discrimination on Tuesday.
The participants of the demonstration, who marched in their tens, were the mine’s night shift workers.
The workers argue that their project director does not take employee grievances seriously. They claim that they have sought intervention from the Minister of Labour and Home Affairs, Edwin Batshu. They stated in the petition that they are paid low salaries and that they are unable to cope with the high inflation. They highlighted that they are a dedicated team, which works tirelessly on shifts to meet the high demand of production.
Though they are paid a fixed amount in allowance, as agreed with the company in mid-2014, the rate is still below the market rate.
“We work abnormal hours, at times more than 12 and a half hours a day, but we are not paid overtime allowances accordingly,” the petition states. The petition further stated that workers are worried that their job demands disrupt their social lives, as they are forced to stay in the camp where visitors are restricted.
They claim that the situation at the camp is unbearable because they live in indecent conditions while the ablution blocks are a health hazard because of sharing.
They complain that the meals are served rotten, and at times often food is prepared with bicarbonate of soda, which is an agent that is used to speed up cooking time.
“The company does not treat employees equally as in its efforts to manage fatigue. It is selectively providing bus transport to employees from the eastern areas such as Lobatse and Francistown, while those from Kgalagardi are not,” stated the petition. Also, foreigners outnumber locals by far and they occupy jobs that can be done by citizens.
Along with the company offering non-competitive salaries, the workers complain that they do not enjoy basic benefits such as medical aid or other insurance. Furthermore, the employees demand to be given bonuses and incentives annually. “We have been working under a series of threats of dismissal and some employees have already lost their jobs on contrived charges,” the petition stated.
The workers further claim that the charges are not investigated properly, there is no fair hearing and judgement is handed down right from the top. Receiving the petition, Nyoni promised to deliver it to the minister while the Member of Parliament for the area, Shawn Ntlhaile, encouraged them to fight for their rights. Ntlhaile assured them that they are the cornerstones of the country’s economy therefore they deserve to be treated fairly. Majwe Mine was not available for a comment as their phone rang unanswered.