The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) on Monday expressed its dissatisfaction over the nonpayment of employees’ salaries at the Optimum and Koornfontein coal mines for the past two months.
NUM members and other workers will be entering their third month without being paid salaries, NUM Highveld regional secretary Tshilidzi Mathavha said, adding that “the business rescue practitioners (BRPs) gave unlawful instructions that employees should not report to work, which goes without saying that come end of the month, employees will not be paid their salaries”.
"This, of course, becomes a burden to workers who . . . survive by selling their labour to their employer. What is of great concern is the fact that the BRPs always gave false hope to the union as if the situation was under control only to find that there is no money," Mathavha added.
Further, the NUM stated that it questioned the BRP’s stance that there is no cash flow to sustain the business, after their commitment that for as long as there is production the business can be sustained until the process of rescuing the business is finalised.
The NUM said it remained unconvinced that the BRPs were working in the interest of rescuing the business from the current financial constraints.
In terms of the Companies Act, BRPs have to ensure that the business is rescued and adhere to the Act in that they must scrutinise potential buyers if they meet requirements.
“To our surprise, the BRPs preferred Project Halo to take over Optimum and Koornfontein. Project Halo has no financial muscles to sustain the business and, further to that, they have no mining licence, which clearly indicates that the BRPs are undermining the creditors and all they want is to further suffocate the business,” the union stated.
Project Halo is a South African consortium and won the bid to buy Gupta-linked mining company Tegeta Exploration & Resources’ Optimum and Koornfontein coal mines and the Optimum coal terminal for R3.05-billion.
The NUM has engaged with the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) regarding a possible way forward, as well as with the BRPs regarding the payment of salaries to employees.
According to the union, the DMR has said the negotiation process has since been restarted and should be completed by the end of February 2019.