There is trouble ahead in Botswana, despite the country’s promise as a major diamond manufacturing sector. A number of companies in the country have either shut their doors or laid off staff since the end of last year.
According to The Southern Times, the Botswana Diamond Workers Union (BDWU) said 490 of its members have lost jobs at Serowe in central Botswana, Teemane Manufacturing Company and at the Gaborone-based Diamond Manufacturing Botswana (DMB).
At Molepolole village in the southern part of the country, Leo Schechter retrenched 28 workers last year and a further 42 in March this year.
In addition, about 105 workers have been laid off at Eurostar Botswana.
BDWU said it was surprising that the government has so far chosen to remain silent about the number of job losses. According to executive secretary Mhuri Bontshetse, the union is dealing with “difficult employers” who have little regard for workers’ rights and interests.
“They (employers) accuse the union of wanting to usurp the powers bestowed on management or that we want to control their companies,” he said, as quoted in The Southern Times.
The union is calling on the government to develop an empowerment policy for local diamond entrepreneurs and ensure fair labor practices and the protection of workers.
Minister of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources Kitso Mokaila said his ministry was monitoring the situation with keen interest, reported The Southern Times.
Mokaila said high operation costs – including high rough prices – are the main problem besetting the mining industry. In addition, diamond companies with operations in Botswana are being squeezed by reduced bank financing.
According to the news site, the government is looking into how the high rough prices can be accommodated to ensure that business in the country is more sustainable.