Union takes up the cud­gels for nearly 800 un­paid Bar­brook min­ers

The Star Early Edition - - BUSINESS REPORT - Ka­belo Khu­malo and Manyane Manyane

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.

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