Jindal Steel will take over ownership of Gujarat NRE Coking Coal after a successful shareholder vote on Wednesday, but workers remain in the dark over when they’ll next be paid.
About 200 shareholders, including many miners who own shares, crammed into a function room at the Quality Suites Pioneer Sands and voted unanimously to allow the Indian steel maker to acquire up to 53.63 per cent of Gujarat shares.
This effectively gives Jindal control over the company and, once debts to Jindal are repaid, will free up about $18 million in additional capital for Gujarat to use to pay off its creditors.
However, for anxious workers – who received their last pay cheque on September 18 – there was no news about when they would receive the wages and superannuation entitlements owed.
After the meeting, Jindal representative Jasbir Singh said his firm was still ‘‘only an investor’’ in the Illawarra company which meant he was unable to comment on when the money would be available for workers to be paid.
‘‘We are doing our due diligence, and it would not be fair to comment just now when they salaries [will be paid] because it’s the company who has to come up with a plan when they are doing their day to day business,’’ Mr Singh said.
‘‘The existing management and existing operations stays as it is, but I can say that our large investment is at stake and we are not taking it lightly, we are taking it very seriously.’’
Chairman Arun Jagatramka was also unable to say when wage payments would be made.
‘‘As a board, we will be meeting after this meeting and we will be discussing these things,’’ Mr Jagatramka said.
‘‘I believe we should be able to come out with a statement in the next few days.
‘‘The thing is, we have sort out many things, before we actually start working.’’
Mr Jagatramka said it was ‘‘too early’’ to say whether he would stay as chairman of the company, but confirmed he would remain on the board and said he would maintain ties with the Illawarra.
‘‘I am not stepping down right now, but ultimately it will be the company’s board that will decide,’’ he said.
Before voting began, the chairman made an impassioned speech to shareholders outlining his commitment to the company and urging them to vote for the Jindal deal.
He said it was ‘‘the only option left...to ensure that the operations continue and to save the jobs of our employees.’’
He also expressed deep regret for their suffering.
‘‘I once again extend my sincere apologies to my employees and their families for the problems that you are experiencing,’’ he said.
‘‘I have always treated my employees as part of my family and our current situation causes me great pain.
‘‘The support given by all Gujarat NRE workers is greatly appreciated and we would not have been able to accomplish so much without your dedication and spirit.’’