Union takes up the cudgels for nearly 800 unpaid Barbrook miners
ROUGHLY 780 workers at Vantage’s Goldfields Barbrook Mines endured a bleak festive season after they were not paid their December salaries and only received a portion of their November salaries, according to labour union Solidarity.
Vantage declined to comment on Friday.
Connie Prinsloo, the deputy general secretary of Solidarity, on Friday said the union would be in discussions with the appointed business rescue practitioner to establish the future of the mine and demand their members be paid their overdue monies.
Barbrook Mine is a sister mine to Lily Mine, near Barberton in Mpumalanga, which was placed under business rescue after a mine shaft collapsed with three miners trapped inside it in February last year. Lily Mine has remained closed ever since as it was deemed unsafe to mine in the area.
Barbrook, also near Barberton, was placed under business rescue in December.
The company’s chief executive, Mike McChesney, said at the time that the company had gone under business rescue to protect its future and that negotiations with potential investors were proceeding well.
Solidarity’s Prinsloo said: “Employees at Barbrook Mine only received a portion of their salaries in November and received no salaries for December.”
He said workers were paid only 15 percent of their salaries in November. Prinsloo said Solidarity was against the recurrence of what happened at Lily mine where workers were encouraged to accept voluntary severance packages in April last year have yet to receive a payout.
“We will not allow the exploitation of employees and our members. Therefore, we regard this upcoming meeting with the business rescue practitioner in a very serious light. Solidarity will not allow the Barbrook employees to be deceived by false pretenses and promises, as in Lily’s case,” said Prinsloo.
The unpaid salaries are a further blow for 130 former Lily Mine workers who were moved to Barbrook Mine after the rest of the workers had taken retrenchment packages.
The majority union at the mine, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), had previously said it was not consulted when Barbrook Mine decided to put its operations under business rescue.
Amcu said the move was in contravention of sections of the Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA).
“Like many mining companies, the Lily Mine management has failed to comply with its social labour plan. Nor were future forum meetings called by the mine management to discuss any difficulties the company was facing at Barbrook.
“Management is in contravention of section 52 of MPRDA,” Amcu had said in a statement.