Operational Costs Challenge in Diamond Industry

| April 13, 2015

Diamond cutting and polishing companies say high prices of rough diamonds and high costs of operating are a major handicap to their business.

The chairperson of Botswana Diamond Workers Union (BDWU), Mr Modiri Keseabetswe, told the media that while it could be true that operational costs were high in Botswana as compared to other Asian countries, there was a challenge as employers and the union were not willing to share some of the problems they encounter.

“They rather prefer to hold secret meetings with the government at the exclusion of the union. These employers are also hesitant to consult with the union regarding imminent retrenchments,” he said.

He said they prefer to engage the union after they had taken final decisions, citing the example of Teemane Manufacturing Company (TMC) and Diamond Manufacturing Botswana.

Mr Keseabetswe said the current retrenchments point to the fact that the diamond industry was in a crises and facing possible collapse if measures to rescue the industry were not taken.

He said the prominent feature of the crisis was the disregard of employees’ rights and welfare in terms of consultations and retrenchment packages.

Botswana Diamond Works Union, he said, has long demonstrated willingness to work with both the employers and government over issues that affect the diamond industry. He said numerous proposals seeking cooperation of the employer and government were taken.

He said in 2008 and 2009 the union sought the intervention of the commissioner of labour over negative attitudes in the cutting and polishing industry towards the union and collective bargaining which included violation of human rights.

In 2010, he said the union also sought the registration of the industrial bargaining council for the diamond manufacturing industry, but that their attempt was thwarted by the commissioner of labour.

“The union pursued this idea in line with Section 48 (a) of the Trade Unions and Employers Organisation Act, including ILO Convention No. 98 on the right to organise and collective bargaining convention No. 144 on social dialogue,” said Mr Keseabetswe.

He said the cause of the entire crisis was aggravated by the monopoly of DeBeers, multinational operations of sight holders, lack of transparency and social dialogue, government playing conflicting roles and lack of aggressive policy to indigenise the diamond business and empower local entrepreneurs.

He said the union proposes the establishment of a national social dialogue forum for the diamond industry to register the industrial bargaining council, develop empowerment policy for local diamond entrepreneurs and ensure fair labour practices and protection of workers.

Source : BOPA

Source : Botswana Daily News

Category: Business & Finance

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