'Non-payment' of workers at Barbrook mine concerns Solidarity

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File image of a coal mine.

JOHANNESBURG – Trade union Solidarity on Friday expressed concern over the state of affairs at Vantage Goldfields’ Barbrook Mine which is under business rescue.

The union said workers were not paid at all in December and that in November they had only received a portion of their salaries.

Barbrook’s sister mine‚ Lily‚ has been under business rescue for nearly a year and is not operational. Attempts to find an investor to buy the mine have to date been unsuccessful.

READ: Lily mine workers advised to apply for severance packages

Both mines are owned by Australian-listed Vantage Goldfields.

Lily was in the news last year when three workers could not be rescued after an accident. Since the event‚ the mine has faced financial problems.

Solidarity’s deputy general secretary of the mining industry Connie Prinsloo said the union would meet the Barbrook business rescue practitioner and mine management on January 11 to discuss the future of the mine and its members.

Prinsloo also said the trade union wanted to establish the nature of Barbrook’s financial and business rescue prospects and what has been done so far to rescue the mine.

Prinsloo said CEO Michael McChesney had stated in an affidavit in support of the business rescue that there was a reasonable prospect of rescuing Barbrook because there were sufficient ore reserves to significantly increase production and for the mine to become profitable at the current gold price.

Also‚ McChesney had noted that the mine had an experienced management team to implement a turnaround plan.

Prinsloo said Lily Mine employees who accepted voluntary severance packages in April last year were still waiting for their unpaid salaries and the payment of their severance packages.

“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‚” Prinsloo said.

“Solidarity will not allow the Barbrook employees to be deceived by false pretences and promises‚ as in Lily’s case.”

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