De Beers Group is contemplating cutting its staff as the diamond corporation struggles with poor sales and has already written letters to its employees notifying them of the impending retrenchments.
It is said that the group has in its letters told the staff that it is only waiting for the State of Emergency (SoE) period to elapse then go-ahead to fast track its transformation strategy which could result in job losses.
The SoE powers which come to an end in October this year, forbid any company from laying off its staff during the period which began in April.
The looming retrenchments at De Beers are said to be part of the transformation journey which has been ongoing and has now been accelerated by the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“De Beers Group has been on a transformation journey in recent years to capture emerging opportunities in the diamond sector,” said De Beers External Communications Manager, Kesego Okie.
Okie said the research carried by De Beers shows that in these challenging times, desire for diamonds remains strong.
She noted that the outbreak of the pandemic has accelerated the trend which they saw before the crisis began, and therefore De Beers is accelerating its transformation strategy to capture opportunities from a more efficient and sustainable cost base.
In doing so, Okie said the expectation is that De Beers will become leaner, more focused, and more sustainable across everything it does.
“In looking at our element for cost base, a reduction in employee numbers is a potential outcome,” she revealed, adding that this, however, will be subject to a consultation process which will begin soon.
De Beers is said to have employed around 20, 000 employees across its business, and at this stage, it remains uncertain how many jobs could be lost.
Botswana Mine Workers Union (BMWU) President, Joseph Tsimako told The Voice that the Union does not deal directly with De Beers, and therefore they have not been engaged about any possible retrenchments.
“We have only held meetings with Debswana and the last one was in July where they indicated that they would rely on the dynamics of the market, which at the time they said there is no reason for retrenchments unless the situation changes,” said Tsimako.
De Beer Group is 85 percent owned by Anglo America, while the remaining 15 percent is held by the Botswana government.
It in turn operates Debswana Diamond Company on a 50/50 basis with the Botswana government.