Workers at ArcelorMittal South Africa in Vanderbijlpark, south of Johannesburg, are demanding that the company takes the health and safety of their workers seriously, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) said on Friday.
This follows an accident in October in which a worker lost three fingers at the leading steel producer’s plant and another accident when a worker fell from a roof and was fatally injured.
Numsa on Friday said it was demanding that three managers responsible for health and safety at the plant be suspended.
In a statement, Numsa also demanded that the Department of Labour appoint qualified inspectors to carry out a thorough investigation into health and safety standards within the company.
The union said it was convinced that the company did not take health and safety seriously and was more concerned with maintaining and increasing production.
Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim said they were also angry at the number of times management had victimised and charged the shop stewards who raised complaints from workers.
“On 2 December the dispute was taken for conciliation at the Metal and Engineering Bargaining Council and although the Commissioner tried to conciliate, the employer arrogantly looked for excuses,” Jim said.
“These included the union missing the 30-day deadline for conciliation in terms of Section 135 of the Labour Relations Act, even though this happened because the company had promised to investigate the accidents but failed to do so in time for the union to meet the deadline.”
Jim said the union had asked to meet the Commission on Monday to discuss its demands, failing which Numsa would proceed to issue a notice for a strike.
ArcelorMittal SA was not available for comment on Friday afternoon.
Last year, ArcelorMittal undertook an industrial footprint review and rationalisation of Vanderbijlpark Works and a review of Corporate Service departments.
– African News Agency