Employees at Tara Mines are concerned the mines will never be reopened.
Last month, Boliden Group announced the zinc mine in County Meath was no longer economically viable due to high-energy costs and declining zinc prices.
The company said 650 workers would be temporarily laid off and given a retainer of €65 per week, in addition to social welfare payments.
Miner Committee Chair Mick Leylan had worked at Tara Mines for 17 years and said he hoped the closure would be temporary.
“I want to believe that,” he told The Pat Kenny show.
“But there is concern there could be an agenda - I’m just saying that personally.”
Mr Leylan said while the low price of zinc “definitely had an effect”, he also feels the mine could have been better managed.
“If they’d have taken actions earlier, they may have been able to possibly run through it on a green period, we call it, where at least you do some work,” he said.
“But I do believe that planning wasn’t done.”
A small number of workers will be kept on to provide the mine with enough care and maintenance to reopen when needed.
The exact number of staff required has yet to be determined but Mr Leylan is worried the right workers will not be chosen.
“We have expressed concerns that we don’t feel the key workers [are getting a good deal and there are] possibly too many managers on that scheme and not enough hourly paid men that do the job normally,” he said.
“We have concerns about that.”
SIPTU divisional organiser Adrian Kane said the plight of a Tara miners highlighted the weakness of the current social welfare system and the need for a “PUP type system to be put in place now - immediately”.
“The system we’ve inherited is the British system,” he said.
“Really, it’s antiquated; it’s built on Victorian values that you don’t trust the labouring classes.
“You pay them a paltry wage or else they’ll never go back to work.”
Jobseekers’ allowance for those aged over 25 is €220 a week.
Boliden Group have been contacted for comment.
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Main image: Tara Mines. Picture by: Alamy.com