The Bisha Mine continues to experience a national workforce turnover rate of approximately 14% – or 188 individuals in 2016. Many factors affect an employee’s decision to leave. Permanent (local Eritrean) employees may find better opportunities elsewhere, or they may prefer to work in less remote locations. Expatriate employees may seek career opportunities (pay or position) in a different geographical location, or may prefer to return to their original country of residence. We also had 23 employees on maternity leave in 2016, of whom, 22 returned or are planning to return to their post and one decided not to return for personal reasons (compared to 17 in 2015 with 16 returning back to their post).
A portion of our 2016 turnover was due to productivity or performance concerns. Those released from their jobs were provided with severance packages as prescribed by Eritrean Labour Law. A total of 140 BMSC employees were hired in 2016 (compared to 296 in 2015); 74% male (69% in 2015) and 26% female (31% in 2015). Two new employees (1 male, 1 female) were hired at corporate headquarters in 2016, while one female employee resigned.
A morale survey was commissioned to address the turnover rate, especially of local employees. The outcome of this survey was an initiative to address common employee concerns. This included aligning job duties and competencies to compensation across the operation, and a local roster system (1 week off for every 4 weeks worked) for all of the employees in the nearby stakeholder communities. This enables local workers to spend more leisure time with their family and to tend to their respective responsibilities outside of work. In addition, local employees who are bussed to work each day now have full access to the canteens that were previously reserved for workers that were living in camp accommodation on-site. The Company will continue to monitor the situation and is cognizant that there will be increased challenges with local retention as more mines begin operating in the country, providing competitive employment opportunities.
The National Confederation of Eritrean Workers and BMSC have come to a preliminary agreement regarding the unionization of the mine’s workforce. Discussions surrounding the framework of this agreement and the various employer-employee conditions are currently being negotiated with the intent of implementation in 2017.
Employee Grievance Mechanism
We have mechanisms in place to effectively and expediently address employee grievances, including an open-door policy that enables employees to communicate their concerns directly to management; an anonymous dropbox as well as a formalized grievance procedure. The Company will continue to monitor the effectiveness of our grievance processes and the expediency in which management responds to concerns. We have a confidential suggestion box where employees can submit comments and suggestions. These matters are addressed by onsite senior management.