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Optimum Mine promises to deal with employee concerns

Employees downed tools this week, bringing operations at the Mpumalanga mine to a halt until they know if they will be paid tomorrow.

A screengrab of employees at the Gupta-owned Optimum Mine in Mpumalanga downing tools over salaries on 21 February 2018.

JOHANNESBURG – Gupta-linked Optimum Coal Mine has assured its striking workers that it will deal with their concerns speedily.

Employees downed tools this week, bringing operations at the Mpumalanga mine to a halt until they know if they will be paid on Friday.

They are also concerned that the mine will shut down following the Bank of Baroda’s exit from South Africa.

National Union Mineworkers (NUM) branch secretary Richard Mguzulu read the demands of the workers gathered on Thursday, highlighting that the mine has no choice but to provide answers today.

“We want to know that how are you going to run this company without having facilities.”

The mine’s COO George van der Merwe received the memorandum and told the striking workers they may not like some of the answers the mine will give.

Van der Merwe is set to revert to those gathered here later today, with NUM leaders warning him not to provoke unnecessary violence with his response.

WATCH: Protest at Gupta-owned coal mine

Meanwhile, NUM has appealed to government to intervene at the mine and clarify claims that that it’s about to be liquidated.

It’s understood that Optimum owes several service providers at least R60 million.

Eyewitness News understands the mine owes over R8 million to a water purification company and another R45 million to companies which provide various plant services.

NUM's regional chair Nelson Ratshoshi says all these uncertainties need to be addressed by van der Merwe when he responds to their memorandum.

It’s also emerged that workers at the Kornfontein mine, owned by the Gupta-linked Tegeta firm, have not yet been paid.

NUM has confirmed that the matter is now before the CCMA.

Ratshoshi has called on government to step in at Optimum, before over 2,000 workers lose their jobs.