File photo: African News Agency (ANA)
File photo: African News Agency (ANA)

Miners still waiting to be paid seven year later

By Tebogo Monama Time of article published Mar 20, 2019

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Xolisa Dyomfana has been bitterly disappointed twice by mining companies.

First he was part of a group of workers who were not paid by the now defunct Aurora mine. Now he is one of the 209 mineworkers fighting Modder East Gold One for money dating back to 2012.

In the Aurora case, he was one of the more than 5000 workers at the Orkney and Grootvlei gold mines that lost their jobs after the mines were stripped of gold and assets valued at R1.82billion while under the control of Aurora Empowerment Systems.

The workers were part of a strike in 2012. During the action, the gold producer dismissed half the workforce, 1 044 employees, after introducing a no-work, no-pay rule and obtaining a court interdict to prohibit an illegal wage strike.

For the past seven years, Dyomfana and his colleagues have been fighting for a payout or their jobs back.

Dyomfana, who has a leg injury from a work accident, said: “Some of the people who were with us have died from broken hearts. The rest of us are just sitting at home hoping that we will hear something from the mine."

According to the group, they were protesting because they wanted their union, the Professional Transport and Allied Workers Union, to be accepted at the mine.

Three days after the strike, a court order ruled that they must return to work, but they were allegedly turned away at the gates.

Buyile Zide, a roof-bolt operator, said they were informed that they needed to do their medical exit tests as they were no longer employed at the Ekurhuleni-based gold mine.

“We refused to do the medical exams because it would mean we didn't work at Gold One anymore.

"We are stuck because we can’t look for jobs at new companies because they need medical exit forms and we can’t work at Gold One because we are still fighting them,” Zide said.

The workers took their case to the Labour Court but lost in 2016.

Most, who lived at the Skoonplaas informal settlement near the mine, said they survived on piece jobs and the mercy of friends and family.

Socialist Revolutionary Workers Party secretary Vusi Ngqokomash, who is trying to assist the miners, said: “Eighty percent who live in Skoonplaas are unemployed because of this. They've been fighting the company for years but nothing has come of it.”

Attempts to get comment from Gold One were unsuccessful.

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