The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) has learnt with concern of an explosion that occurred at Coega Steels in the Eastern Cape Province. The Union calls on the Department of Employment and Labour (DOEL) to investigate the matter and undertakes to participate fully in the investigation.
At around 5:00 this past Sunday (22 August 2021), there was an explosion at Coega Steels’s furnace department. As a result, five (5) workers were seriously injured and transported to St George’s Hospital where they are receiving medical attention.
“We pray for the speedy recovery of these comrades and their families and loved ones are also in our prayers”, said AMCU President Joseph Mathunjwa. “It is not good to work in such hazardous situations in order to put food on the table”, he added. “As AMCU, we will ensure that the investigations are completed and, if any manager is found to be at fault, that he faces the full might of the law”, Mathunjwa said.
AMCU has learnt that Coega Steels has subsequently agreed to appoint an independent investigator, and AMCU will be included in the investigation report. Coega Steels also undertook to report the incident to the DOEL in terms of the relevant legislation.
AMCU has previously raised concerns about the sluggish pace of DOEL investigations into these kinds of workplace accidents. Similar explosions took place on 17 February 2021 at ArcelorMittal in Vanderbijl Park where three (3) workers were killed, and again on 19 May 2021 when five (5) workers were injured. In the latter case two (2) workers had to be airlifted as they were critically injured. To date the DOEL has not conducted any inquiries into these incidents and calls by AMCU to engage on the matter has not yielded any fruits.
“We implore the Department [of Employment and Labour] to pull up their socks and investigate these serious incidents”, said Mathunjwa. “We need inquiries to take place so that there can be findings and recommendations to bring those at fault to book and avoid further deaths and injuries to breadwinners”, Mathunjwa concluded.
For interviews: AMCU President Joseph Mathunjwa