SA steel firm’s health standards fail the true test

The world’s largest steel company, Arcelor Mittal SA has proved it’s pre-eminence as the most profitable multinational through its huge balance sheet. But, it failed the true test when it came to treatment of its steelworkers and restoring surrounding communities’ state of health.

Not surprisingly, the steel giant operations at its waste site in the Vaal, South of Johannesburg, were shut down by Green Scorpions for dumping hazardous waste, resulting in massive air and groundwater pollution in the area. Meanwhile, outside South Africa the company and international metalworkers unions recently committed themselves to a joint awareness initiative to improve occupational health and safety standards in more than 20 countries.

Arcelor Mittal operates more than 61 plants in 27 countries.

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) is gravely concerned that the company does not see it as its major obligation to improve its performances in eliminating hazards faced by workers on a daily basis in the workplace and in their communities.

Up to a million members in the surrounding Vaal communities and more than 4 000 workers in the Vereeniging-based steel plant may be safer or already affected by the debilitating poisoning pollution, thanks to environmental management inspectors who exposed a series of cases of negligence against Mittal SA, including hundreds of thousands of magnetite (black magnetizable iron steel hazardous wastes). Notwithstanding the company disregarding its obligation to the safer environmental legislation and health of its steelworkers in its operations, it continued to blow its horn in the outside world by making an undertaking to improve global safety and healthy standards as priority achievements.

Numsa welcomes environmental management inspectors’ consistency in monitoring and taking stern action whenever non-compliance and negligence has been detected against these uncaring and unpatriotic profit-seeking multinationals, including Highveld Steel, Assmang and others.

For further information contact:

Mziwakhe Hlangani, Numsa national spokesperson

Cell phone: 082 9407116

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