BMWU Threatens Khoemacau With Legal Action

Date:

  • Union accuses Khoemacau of reluctance to sign MoA
  • This follows the mine’s recognition of the Union in February

The Botswana Mine Workers Union (BMWU) plans to drag the Khoemacau Copper Mining (KCM) company to court over its reluctance to finalise the two parties’ recognition Memorandum of Agreement (MoA). 

Subsequent to Khoemacau having finally recognised the union after reportedly giving it a hard time, things are said to have once again stalled as the mine has turned down the union’s proposed cut off point of members willing to join them.

According to BMWU Secretary-General, Maenge Maenge, at first it was not easy for them to acquire recognition from the mine despite having met all the requirements. It is procedural that when a mine opens for operation a union can apply to the company for recognition so as to give willing members representation on labour issues.

“The law is straight and forward that when you apply for recognition you should prove that you have a third majority of people willing to be part of that union. We did that the last week of November 2021. December and January passed still engaging with the company for approval but they remained reluctant,” Maenge said stressing that this is despite the union having met all the requirements and furnished management will all the necessary equipment. 

The expectation was that management should have then within a period of 41 days granted them the recognition but that did not happen.

According to Maenge it was only then after they had written to the mine threatening to approach the courts, as provided for by the trade dispute act that the management granted them the recognition beginning of February this year.

“After that it then meant that we should enter into the next step which is the recognition agreement between the employer and the union which is the one that regulates the relations of the two parties but until today that issue has not been resolved,” Maenge revealed.

The bone of contention he explained is that management has rejected their proposed cut off point for members joining the union to be that of D2 scale downwards.  He said the mine instead want it to be from C3 scale something which the union also reject arguing that their membership will be compressed.

The mine is said to have argued that some of their employees who are on that scale hold management positions which therefore prohibits them from joining the union while on the other side the union has refuted the claims.

“The only people who are not allowed to join the union are those who are managers, those with the power to hire and fire, but as far as we know those people do not have such powers. Up to now the MoA has not yet been signed because the employer has not shown seriousness when it comes to this issue,” the secretary-general complained.

Maenge added that the matter was also recently discussed during their mediation engagement with the Labour Department but, it has proven that the employer has no intention to conclude the issue. He said management was at pains to prove that indeed those on D2 Scale have managerial powers.

“During the mediation this week they refused to agree even when the mediator tried to put sense on them, they failed to give evidence that the said people indeed have the managerial powers but only indicated that they can make recommendations, but the mediator has made it clear to them that to make recommendations does not mean one has managerial powers.”

Maenge said the mine has also turned down their other proposal which they tabled for progress’ sake for the A-C band to be allowed to join the union and have a signed agreement on that while on the side continuing with engagements about those on D Scale. But the management is said to maintained that they could instead settle for C3 consequently delaying the process again.

“So today we are awaiting to hear how it will turn out because we hear that those at the top have discarded the entire MoA draft and have written their own,” Maenge said revealing that they will be left with no option but to seek the intervention of the courts as the employer seem not be willing to amicably conclude the matter.

In a brief response, Khoemacau’s General Manager, Kevin Moxham said progress has been made on the matter but insisted that this publication should visit their site for further clarity and that arrangement was yet to be made at the time of going to print.

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