JOHANNESBURG – The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has rejected Village Main Reef’s (VMR) restructuring plan in which 6 309 mineworkers could likely be retrenched, it said on Thursday.
The NUM called on Mineral and Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe to intervene, saying that the company had unilaterally issued letters to workers instructing them not to report to work after the lockdown period.
Masibulele Naki, NUM’s Matlosana regional secretary, said the company had announced that the “no work, no pay” policy would apply from March 26 when the national lockdown was implemented, adding that all mineworkers on lockdown would not be paid.
“VMR is pleading poverty, but it has been harbouring some thieves within its management structures. Recently, the company dismissed some of its senior managers for stealing gold and other fraud and corruption-related matters. Now the mineworkers must pay for that by facing no work no pay during the lockdown and being retrenched,” Naki said.
VMR last week issued a Section 189 notice notifying organised labour of its plan to permanently close the Tau Lekoa Mine and restart the Kopanang and West Gold Plant with reduced employees when the national coronavirus lockdown ends in a bid to keep the company afloat.
It said that both the Tau Lekoa and Kopanang mines were loss-making and the losses would widen if they operated at 50 percent capacity. The government gave mining houses the green light to operate at 50 percent capacity.
VMR said to keep operating these loss-making underground operations with the current workforce while only operating at 50 percent production levels was not possible. “As a result, the company projects that it will experience further financial difficulties in the months ahead, within the lockdown period as well as following the upliftment of the lockdown, due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic,” it said, adding it was also uncertain when and how underground mining operations would be allowed to operate at 100 percent
In December four mineworkers died at the Tau Lekoa gold mine following a rockfall.
By Dineo Faku