Optimum placed under business rescue as workers threaten complete shutdown

Over 2,000 workers have vowed to ramp up their protest after downing tools on Wednesday, demanding clarity on the mine’s future after the Bank of Baroda announced its departure from South Africa.

Optimum coal mine workers protest after the company failed to pay their salaries on 23 February 2018. Picture: Pelane Phakgadi/EWN

HENDRINA - Striking workers at the Gupta-owned Optimum coal mine are now demanding that operations at the Mpumalanga operation be completely shut down until an arrangement is made concerning their salaries.

Over 2,000 workers have vowed to ramp up their protest.

They downed tools on Wednesday, demanding clarity on the mine’s future after the Bank of Baroda announced its departure from South Africa.

National Union of Mines (NUM) branch chair Goodwill Mthombeni says mine management has now confirmed that Optimum has been placed under business rescue.

He says the mine’s CEO George van der Merwe must address the angry crowd gathered outside.

“This mine must be brought to a standstill. They can’t be producing on the outside while the salaries of other comrades on this side are being sacrificed.”

It’s understood NUM leaders and mine management are locked in engagements.

PARLIAMENT CONCERNED

Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources says it's gravely concerned at the latest developments at the mine in Mpumalanga where workers are on strike demanding salaries.

The committee says it’s received a letter from the National Union of Mineworkers, requesting intervention in the ongoing impasse.

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)