The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has called for the operating licence of ArcelorMittal in Vanderbijl Park to be reviewed, after an explosion last Wednesday 17 February 2021 resulted in the deaths of three workers.
The EFF further called on the management of the steel manufacturing company which has five main operations across South Africa to be held fully liable for this horrific accident. This, the party said, should include criminal charges against key decision-makers, and the company to be fully liable for the well-being of the dependents of the deceased.
EFF WANTS DEPARTMENT TO ACCOUNT FOR ARCELORMITTAL BLAST
In a statement, the EFF said, “It cannot be that this day and age, we are still begging private-owned companies to follow health and safety regulations and not prioritise profits over humans. Not only did ArcelorMital take its time to alert authorities about the explosion, but did not seek experts, instead gambled with untrained workers to be part of the rescue mission.
“We cannot continue harbouring incompetent government officials and heads of departments who are unmoved by foreign privately-owned companies gambling not only with the lives of workers but those of their dependents at all costs.
“We also have it on good record that ArcelorMittal does not have a good track record. Various complaints have been made against the company including on-site injury of workers. These companies do as they wish because consequences for their actions are usually a slip in the wrist and there should be harsher repercussions.”
The EFF further called for the Department of Labour and Department of Mineral Resources and Energy to account to Parliament as to why action was never taken against the company following previous roles. “Not only should these Departments account, but heads must roll.”
BODIES RECOVERED AFTER ARCELORMITTAL EXPLOSION
On Wednesday, 17 February 2020 there was an explosion in ArcelorMittal’s plant in Vandebijl Park, Gauteng. Three workers were then trapped in the rubble and were found dead a few hours after the explosion.
Speaking to TimesLive, NUMSA’s Sedibeng regional secretary Kabelo Ramokhathali said employees voluntarily worked throughout the night to ensure the bodies were recovered.
“Had it on been for these workers, we would still be searching for them even now. There is no specialised rescue team, and this is a requirement for a company the size of ArcelorMittal which has over 2500 employees excluding contractors,” Ramokhathali said.