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Pay relief for Gujarat mine workers

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Gujarat workers are finally set to receive wages owed to them as the company’s new managers announce plans to pour up to $350 million into the business to keep it running.

The new-look Gujarat board, headed by the Jindal Steel boss Jasbir Singh, approved a $50 million short-term debt facility last week aimed at paying workers’ wages and keeping both Russell Vale and Wongawilli coal mines open.

CFMEU district vice-president Bob Timbs said today’s payment would make up last week’s missed wages and this week’s pay cheque, Illawarra Mercury reports.

Timbs said the company had made a strong commitment to ensure wages were paid as normal in the coming weeks.

However, with millions still owed for six weeks’ worth of unpaid wages and superannuation payments, Timbs said the work around formalising who was owed what was complex and needed to be undertaken ‘‘in an orderly and correct manner’’.

‘‘For this week our short-term goal was [to have] an undertaking for immediate wage payments and the security of ongoing wage payments,” he said.

Russell Vale lodge secretary Wilf O’Donnell said workers had done it tough over the last few weeks.

‘‘There’s still the fine details to be sorted out in the weeks to come, but in general everyone is a lot more optimistic and a lot happier,’’ he said.

‘‘We now have a new investor on board officially, according to the ASX announcement, and that gives us the chance to start fresh and try to work with the new owners to turn these into two very productive mines with a good, long-term future.

‘‘We’ve always had the hope that somehow between the union’s efforts and our own efforts our money would arrive, but this definitely means our entitlements will be arriving much sooner.

‘‘But the real party won’t start until the dollars drop into our accounts.’’

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