Lily Mine workers protest to demand salaries

2017-02-03 18:31
Nkomazi Executive Mayor Thulisile Khoza addressing residents regarding the Lily Mine protest.

Nkomazi Executive Mayor Thulisile Khoza addressing residents regarding the Lily Mine protest.

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Barberton - A small group of mineworkers and residents blocked off a main road and burnt tyres in protest over unpaid salaries and the abandoned rescue of three bodies trapped underground at Lily Mine.  

Members of the KaloMshiyo community in Barberton, Mpumalanga, joined some of the retrenched miners in a protest around 22:00 on Thursday night.

Police arrived on Friday morning and cleared the scene.

Sunday marks the one-year anniversary of the Lily Mine disaster. Yvonne Mnisi, Pretty Nkambule, and Solomon Nyirenda were in a lamp room housed in a shipping container on the surface of the coal mine, when a supporting pillar underground collapsed. The container was buried under tons of rock and soil, about 60m underground. Seventy miners were rescued through a ventilation shaft.

The search for the three was suspended indefinitely when the mine’s Australian owners, Vantage Goldfields, said they needed R200m to continue the rescue mission and resume operations. The mine was placed under business rescue.

Mine management postponed Sunday's memorial service, saying it posed a security threat.

Yvonne’s father Elmon said he wanted nothing to do with the protest.

Workers had not been paid since the end of October last year. They wanted Nkomazi municipality mayor, Thulisile Khoza, to arrange a meeting between them and the mineral resources department. She had promised this would happen on Wednesday.

A former Lily Mine employee, who asked to remain anonymous, said she was still waiting for her salary.

“They are not informing us of anything and they are making decisions without consulting the employees. People are just given a paper saying that they have been retrenched, and they are not given a severance package,” she said.

The woman said she was disappointed by the lack of government intervention and help from the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union.

“Amcu has said nothing to us. They have not been here to see us, but instead they keep saying we must pray. If the government doesn’t help us, then who is going to help us?”

Trade union Solidarity called for those responsible for the tragedy to be held accountable.

“We are concerned about the business rescue practitioner making empty promises for the past 10 months, as nothing has come to fruition. We are keen for the investigation to commence,” general secretary Gideon du Plessis said.

Read more on:    mbombela  |  protests  |  lily mine

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