Today's Labour News

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coalFin24 reports that the resumption of trains carrying coal at the formerly Gupta-owned Optimum Coal Mine in Mpumalanga was met with great excitement from the new owners, Liberty Coal, earlier this month when the first consignments were sent down to Richards Bay.

It, however, also caught the attention of hundreds of former Optimum employees, some of whom gathered outside the mine gates on Thursday to demand an engagement about their employment prospects. Former employee Sipho Nkambule said the group was met with private security and police and was instructed to route their request through the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM). The former workers, who have been jobless for six to eight years, will now meet with the NUM, but say they have lost faith in the union's ability to represent their interests as only certain individuals appeared to have benefited from the work opportunities which arose at the mine. The notorious Gupta family previously owned the coal mine, which was placed into business rescue in early 2018. In terms of a creditor-approved rescue plan as eventually agreed, Liberty took over the mine. According to Liberty, around 1,600 people are currently employed at Optimum, some of whom are former employees. Eventually, around 3,000 people will be employed at the mine. As part of the business rescue process, Liberty committed to prioritise the employment of former workers. But, Liberty has called for patience in light of various challenges which have only recently been overcome.

  • Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Lisa Steyn at Fin24

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