Numsa members staged a protest at Fortune Steel in Nigel in Ekurhuleni. Picture: Numsa

Johannesburg - The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) said on Monday that at least seven workers were injured when a furnace exploded at Fortune Steel in Nigel in Ekurhuleni. Numsa said that the incident occurred on Saturday during the night shift, less than 24 hours after the union marched and protested against the company on Friday.

Fortune Steel is part of Fortune Group, a steel company based in India. Numsa has accused the company of flouting basic health and safety laws, as well as ignoring labour laws.

"One of the workers who was injured in the blast is in critical condition at a Hospital in Alberton after he sustained extensive injuries to the head, chest and arms. As is usually the case, the management tried to cover up this incident," said Phakamile Hlubi-Majola, Numsa acting national spokesperson.

"They refused to call the ambulance and attempted to transport the injured themselves using private vehicles. It was only with the intervention of the local police that workers received medical care provided for by the ambulances. The management had the audacity to try and downplay the accident as a minor workplace issue."

Fortune Steel was not immediately available to respond to these allegations.

African News Agency/ANA