JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) - The United Association of South Africa (Uasa) said on Friday that its members at Aurora Empowerment Systems' Grootvlei mine east of Johannesburg would return to work next week.
Uasa spokesperson Frik van Straten said that Aurora had agreed to service all backlogs in terms of all deferred pay items, such as pension and garnishee orders immediately.
Insofar as salaries were concerned, all previous agreements were null and void, owing to previous investors having withdrawn. The beleaguered mining company has made a new offer to the unions' members, which was subject to them returning to work.
Van Straten said that according to the agreement, the February backlog salaries of 40%, which was owed to payroll two employees would be paid within ten days.
Thereafter, salaries would be paid on a weekly basis with no discrimination between payroll one and payroll two employees.
In addition, the mine would provide small bridging amounts for petrol and food in the interim.
Aurora commercial director Seshile Ngubane said on Friday that the company had stretched itself, with limited funding and almost no production, to facilitate the demands of miners at its Grootvlei and Orkney operations, where industrial actions relating to wage payments had sporadically been taking place for the past two months.
He told Mining Weekly Online that the company had now placed a new agreement on the table and that workers could either accept it and return to work by Monday, or not return at all.
The company also ensured that electricity and water would be available on site.
Aurora vowed that all income derived from production would be allocated to salaries as a priority with other production costs to be paid thereafter.
However, the National Union of Mineworkers spokesperson Lesiba Seshoka said that mineworkers at the Grootvlei and Orkney mines would not return to work "anytime soon" as many remained unpaid, despite several promises by the company.
"The company says that it has paid all its workers at Grootvlei, but workers are still owed their 1,5% for February and monies for the March month. Category A workers have also not been paid," said the NUM chairperson at Grootvlei Frasy Namanyana.
Meanwhile, workers at Aurora Orkney had also vowed not to return to work until they were paid their March wages. "The NUM understands that the company wants to keep the operations under care-and-maintenance and calls on the company to pay its work force first so that it let them go.
Aurora told Mining Weekly Online that it would reveal the company's planned funders on Monday.