Lily Mine protesters demand answers over unpaid salaries

2016-05-05 13:02
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Barberton - Failure to pay workers at Mpumalanga's collapsed Lily Mine resulted in a massive protest involving local residents and more than 700 disgruntled miners on Thursday morning.

Thursday marked exactly three months since a shaft collapsed at Lily Mine in Louieville, outside Barberton, on February 5. It caused a huge sinkhole into which three workers disappeared. They had still not been found.

The mine, owned by Vantage Goldfields, said it had paid workers R650 each after failing to secure funding to pay their April salaries.

"You know you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t. None of us really thought it is going to be such a struggle to get funding," said the mine's operation director, Mike Begg.

The protesters blockaded the road to the mine and removed the board showing the way to the mine. Louws Creek police officers were on the scene.

"The time to be calm has now run out. How will this valley, the Lomshiyo valley, survive this?" said one angry miner.

Louieville community forum member Caesar Mzobe said mine management had to come clean.

"It looks like our people could just as well have died that day, like our three colleagues that did not survive the sinkhole like we did. Our hope of having a positive end to this story has now been wiped off the table.

"Why must we keep on working if they know there is not going to be money for salaries? Why make promises of R50 000 for all the survivors and R200 000 for the families of the three people that did not survive? The only thing we now understand is that you cannot trust mine management," he said.

Business Rescue Practitioner, Rob Devereux, told a News24 correspondent that no funding had been secured to pay salaries or sink a new shaft.

"There are some options still available," he said, without elaborating.

Trade union Solidarity general secretary Gideon du Plessis said poor communication was taking its toll. Workers had expected their full salaries last Friday, he said.

Read more on:    lily mine  |  mbombela  |  mining

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