Hundreds of workers at two NSW mines have been given a choice of working without pay or taking unpaid leave – either way being left penniless by the operator.

Employees at two Gujarat NRE mines near Illawarra went on strike last week over unpaid wages and entitlements. This week they have been given the choice; return to work no guarantee of being paid or take leave.

The company that owns the mine is reportedly waiting to be bought out by the Indian steel-making firm Jindal, though shareholders will not vote on the sale for two weeks.

Current owners Gujarat says it will try to find some money, but workers should not expect any for a few more weeks.

The company has been accused of a lack of transparency about its clearly dire financial state, with state MP for Keira, Ryan Park saying: “it's time for the company to come clean and say very clearly when the workers will be paid.”

One of the mines in question employs around 450 people, with estimates that for each direct worker several more rely on the related industry.

Gujarat's chairman Arun Jagatramka has reportedly received letters from local politicians and union members demanding to be kept informed.