Optimum mine workers yet to receive their salaries amid Gupta withdrawal

About 2,000 mine workers downed tools this week demanding that management tell them if they would be paid today.

The COO of Optimum coal mine, George van der Merwe, responds to workers' concerns over salary payments on 22 February 2018. Picture: Pelane Phakgadi/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG – Protesting workers at Gupta-linked Optimum coal mine in Mpumalanga have not received their salaries this morning after fears that the Bank of Baroda’s withdrawal from South Africa would impact their livelihoods.

The bank - the only one handling the Gupta's finances in South Africa - announced its decision to withdraw from the country amid questions about its dealings with the controversial Gupta family.

About 2,000 mine workers downed tools this week demanding that management tell them if they would be paid today.

Optimum is now heading to court to force Bank of Baroda to keep its accounts open.

Earlier this month, the financial institution announced it was withdrawing from South Africa.

About 2,000 mine workers have been waiting to be paid and have downed tools.

If the court bid fails, the mine will not have a bank through which to transact and pay salaries.

Optimum Mine COO George van der Merwe says if the courts do not instruct the Bank of Baroda to handle the mine’s finances transacting will be difficult.

“Bank of Baroda delays changing these dollars into rands so that I can get local currencies to pay.”

Employees gathered at the mine on Thursday, demanding to know if they would be paid but van der Merwe said he was unsure.

Meanwhile, Derko Mining and Exploration has asked the High Court in Pretoria to either place Optimum in business rescue or have it liquidated to pay its debts.

WATCH: Mine workers protest outside Optimum coal mine.