FRANCISTOWN: Mupane Gold Mine workers have endorsed a strike action against their employer. The general-secretary of the Botswana Mine Workers Union (BMWU) Maenge Maenge told Mmegi this week that over 90 of 111 unionised employees at the mine recently voted in favour of a planned strike action.
The union has said the strike will go ahead if the mine does not accede to a fresh salary increase proposal. In order for the industrial strike to legally take place, it has to be endorsed by two-thirds of unionised employees under the employ of the mine. There were reports that some employees were reluctant to endorse the strike in fear of being victimised. “The mine requested that we give it up to Wednesday to consult on our compromise proposal.
They are yet to get back to us on our proposal following our recent meeting. Many of our members have approved the strike through a vote,” said Maenge on Thursday afternoon. He added: “If we do not get a favourable response, we will inevitably embark on a strike after the cooling off period.” The 30-day cooling off period started on December 2, 2021 and will lapse before the end of this month paving way for the strike to take place. Strike action is not allowed during this period. The union and mine officials met at the interventions of the Botswana Chamber of Mines last week but could not reach a common understanding on the salary increase.
The mine maintained that a four percent increase was suitable. The union's counter (compromise) proposal was that anything above four percent is acceptable. The other alternative suggested by the union was that both parties should go for arbitration. The union noted that failure to explore any of the two options by Mupane would ultimately mean that strike can go on as planned. “Based on previous cases if we go for arbitration, we are optimistic that the arbitrator will deliver a fair verdict.
It is very probable that our members might get a salary increase that is above what we are looking for,” said Maenge. When negotiations started late last year, the union had proposed a 13% salary increase for its members against the four percent tabled by the mine management. Later, the union said it was willing to settle for eight percent of the 13 percent but both parties failed to reach an agreement.
At the time, the management maintained that the mine's financial position is such that it can only afford a four percent increase while the union held a contrary view. The negotiations initially included salary increases as well as provision of other monetary benefits such as shift and housing allowances. The union would then decide to solely focus on salary talks.