Workers at the Lily Mine in Barberton will not be getting their April salaries today, according to trade union Solidarity.
The union’s announcement, on the last working day of the month, comes after the mine’s owner, Vantage Gold Fields, asked the Industrial Development Corporation for R250 million in funding.
The mine, which has yet to retrieve three bodies trapped underground since the cage housing collapsed in February, has been under financial strain since the accident.
Lily has been placed under business rescue and 900 jobs are on the line. It has also agreed to sink a 500 metre decline shaft in a latest bid to get to the container in which the mineworkers are trapped.
Solidarity says in a statement that, although those working at Lily will not be paid, their colleagues working at the nearby Barbrook Mine will possibly be paid today. This followed a memorandum which was sent to workers around 12:00 and trade union leaders were informed about the surprising turn of events just a short while before that.
Gideon du Plessis, the union’s General Secretary of Solidarity, says this news is in conflict with the expectation which was created during the mass staff meeting when the mine management and the business rescue practitioner also addressed the workers.
“It is deplorable that both the workers and trade unions were kept in the dark with regard to the payment of salaries after the mine management and business rescue practitioner created hope among the workers just last week,” Du Plessis says.
Du Plessis believes that the non-payment of workers’ salaries will lead to the termination of all activities at the nearby Barbrook Mine where Lily mine workers are currently working.
Solidarity Helping Hand will hand out food packs next week to Solidarity members who are affected by the non-payment of salaries.
It was not immediately clear whether workers would be paid at a later stage. The news comes just before the long weekend celebrations of Workers’ Day.