JOHANNESBURG – The National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) said on Friday that members at Fortune Steels in Nigel, Ekurhuleni, had embarked on strike after negotiations to improve the salaries and working conditions reached a deadlock.
Fortune Steel is part of Fortune Group, a steel company based in India.
In April this year, seven workers were injured when a furnace exploded at Fortune Steel during the night shift, less than 24 hours after the union marched in protest against the company.
Numsa accuses the company of flouting basic health and safety laws. The union also claims the company ignores labour laws.
Jacob Xilongo, Numsa regional secretary in Ekurhuleni, however, acknowledged that there have been some improvements in safety since the protests.
"However, on key issues, such as wage increases and benefits to members they continue to exploit and abuse our members. As we speak workers are denied access to water and toilets as they embark on their legally protected picket," Xilongo said in a statement.
Workers are demanding "a living wage" of R50 per hour and reject the poverty wage of R20 per hour, 40-hour working week, and 70 percent medical aid contribution.
"Currently our members do not receive any cover. They are working like slaves, with daily shifts of 12 hours per day and they are not being compensated," Xilongo said.
"It is not our intention to resort to strike action, except that we are dealing with an employer that refuses to treat us with respect and human dignity. The company has refused to engage with our demands and has simply rejected the offer on the table. Our members refuse to back down. We will strike until our demands are met."
Fortune Steel could not be immediately reached for comment.
– African News Agency (ANA)