BMWU demand recognition from the clay-brick company
Botswana Miners Workers Union (BMWU) believe momentum is building and victory approaching in their long-standing battle with brick-manufacturer’s, Makoro Brick & Tile (PTY) Ltd.
In a dispute that has raged for years, the union has repeteadly sought recognition from the clay brick manufacturing company with little success.
Established near Palapye in 1987, Makoro Bricks is one of the leading brick companies in the country.
However, it has come under fire over its continued reluctance to embrace trade unions.
Speaking to The Voice on Wednesday afternoon, BMWU President, Joseph Tsimako criticized the company for refusing to allow its employees to unionise.
He accused the brick-making outfit’s management of resorting to underhand tactics to ensure the all important ‘33 percent’ target is not met. According to the Trade Disputes Act, if one-third of a company’s workforce joins a union, then the union have the right to apply to be recognised by that company
“What they usually do is retrench all their staff members who had showed willingness to join the union. This will then mean we’re unable to reach the 33 percent threshold,” claimed Tsimako, adding this has resulted in several ‘unfair firings’ over the years.
“Every time we asked for recognition, management threatened retrenchment, and we later decided to demand that recognition through a court of law,” continued the union boss.
Tsimako also accused Makoro’s management of failing to honour a 19 February court directive issued by Justice Diwanga.
In the order, Diwanga directed the District Labour Office in Palapye to conduct a ballot of Makoro employees to find out exactly how many are members of the union and if their numbers meet the one-third threshold.
The order was to be carried out within 30 days. However, six months later the process remains incomplete.
“They’re deliberately dragging their feet and are choosing a wrong interpretation of what is supposed to happen,” grumbled a fed-up Tsimako.
According to the union leader, Makoro Management maintain that only a limited number of their employees do the actual mining while the rest are into manufacturing.
“That’s a matter of interpretation, and to our understanding the constitution allows us to register members from such companies, including quarries,” he insisted.
An ex-employee, Patrick Bontlogetse, who worked for Makoro as a tunnel kiln operator, described his former employees as ‘ruthless and uncaring’.
“I joined that company in 2009 and in 2018 I joined the union and my life was never the same. In all the years I was at the company I witnessed many of my colleagues losing their jobs after joining the union,” he stated.
Bontlogetse claimed the firing and retrenchments created so much fear amongst employees that very few had the courage to join the union.
“I’m happy that a few brave ones are taking management on. I pray that court rules in their favour,” he closed.
The Voice reached out to Makoro General Manager, Dorcas Mosesha, who declined to comment, noting the matter is still before Francistown Industrial Court. The case continues on Monday 18 October.