Botswana: 'Air Botswana Never Engaged Us' - Staff

11 December 2019

Air Botswana Employees Union (ABEU) have accused management of using the looming restructuring process to rectiufy bad management practices at the expense of the employees.

Chairperson of ABEU, Pius Tuelo Tshepe, said although the union does not acknowledge the process as a third phase restructuring as this was not notified to the them at the commencement of the process in the first Phase. "The Union remains steadfast in its position of no confidence of the current leadership and is wary that the projects that are being undertaken by this current leadership may further compromise the future of the Airline," said Tshepe.

Following the media engagement by the Air Botswana General Manager and Board Chairman, ABEU release a public statement, reproduced below.

Restructuring Process

ABEU would like to express that contrary to the General Manager's remarks regarding restructuring and the Union's involvement ABEU has not agreed to/or have bought into the idea. ABEU is totally against the idea of the restructuring at this stage and this position has been communicated to management.

ABEU has issued through a letter copied to the Ministry of Transport & Communication a motion of no confidence against General Manager Agnes Khunwana and her Executive Management, in May 2019. The reason behind this was in the view of the Union, mismanagement of the business and failure to reach planned goals which has led to the catastrophic position the Airline is in up to now.

Failed Organisational Restructuring

In 2016 when the Restructuring a proposed approved structure promised to have a staff number of 350 employees across Air Botswana. Additionally, the organisation opted and continues to replace restructured staff by recruiting externally which we believe was/is a more expensive alternative to which we believe contradicts the Initiatives Restructuring was supposed to achieve, and not forgetting that by doing so, demotivates the long serving current staff members whom have been denied the opportunity to prove themselves suitable candidates.

Failure to Implement proposed business systems

As mitigating initiative against staff shortage due to Restructuring, one of the initiatives management proposed was to implement the latest business friendly operating systems, but however not all areas with the organisation have been addressed leading to some staff members being overwhelmed by the workload. In some area our members have noted that they have been given the roles and responsibility of restructured staff on top of their initial responsibilities without amending their compensations or reviewing their contracts. This has led to deepening employee dissatisfaction with their working conditions and compromised the overall productivity of some divisions due to some of these poor working conditions.

27% Gap Closure

Despite initially approving the Tsa Badiri Report in 2015 and promising to implement the recommendations thereof Management has failed to keep their promise, which led to a court battle between ourselves(ABEU) and Air Botswana, which presents a looming obligation against an already struggling Air Botswana, which we believe could have been averted. However, Management opted for an arrogant and stubborn approach to handling the matter which has hurt the relationship between employees and management, contributed to the growing disgruntlement of employees against their employer. Despite ABEU efforts to engage outside the legal parameters, the General Manager specifically has over 4 years failed to take the opportunity to build better relationship with her staff or even showing intent to avoid any unnecessary conflicts with staff.

The Re-Fleeting and Re-Branding project

As part government's effort to rebuild and stabilise Air Botswana, Management announced to staff this initiative and thus giving hope to staff members about their job security. However, with what seems now customary to Air Botswana that too has been a disaster. We ABEU, believe not much was done to involve all necessary Stakeholders to ensure a successful implementation of the Re-Fleeting exercise as per expectation from staff. Various amateur mistakes were made which in turn proved costly for the organisation, i.e. The trade-in of ATR 42-500 for the new ATR72-600 did not yield the intended saving but however led to the Air Botswana losing and paying more for the "new" Aircraft Acquisitions.

Re-branding was not satisfactory according to our own observation as well, As ABEU our expectation was that Re-branding should have been a staff owned/driven exercise, however the contrary occurred. Much of our employee have not bought into this New Air Botswana primary due to being side-lined throughout the process. Even despite launching new Aircraft management made no effort to engaging staff member to being part of the process to giving them some sense of belonging to Air Botswana.

Annual Cost of Living Salary Adjustment Engagements

As ABEU we also have a displeasure at the way Air Botswana for the past recent years choose to address the issue of annual salary increment. Our expectation is that, this is not an unexpected initiative (as it is annual in nature) and therefore Management as the responsibility to engage with all

concerned stakeholders leading to satisfactory outcomes for all parties. However, Management continues not do so. In many occasion ABEU has made efforts to better this relationship but unfortunately has failed to receive cooperation from Management. Management opts to often delay increments which mostly are not negotiated with ABEU and year in year out delayed. This as has led to many disgruntlements amongst staff who bear

cost due to this method of chosen by management i.e. Due to late adjustments staff member lose out on Pension benefits, and various acting allowances, overtime pay-outs etc which could have been different had the adjustments been made out on time.

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