Taking COSATU Today Forward, 25 October 2021

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Norman Mampane

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Oct 25, 2021, 7:12:21 AMOct 25
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COSATU TODAY

#2021YearofCosatuLocals

#Back2Basics

#JoinCOSATUNow

#ClassConsciousness

Taking COSATU Today Forward

‘Whoever sides with the revolutionary people in deed as well as in word is a revolutionary in the full sense’-Maoo

 

Our side of the story

Monday, 25 October 2021


‘Deepen the Back to Basics Campaign, Consolidate the Struggle for the NDR and Advance the Struggle for Socialism’

All workers urged to take Covid19 vaccine jabs!

Organize at every workplace and demand Personal Protective Equipment Now!

Defend Jobs Now!

Join COSATU NOW!

 

Contents                      

  • Workers Parliament: Back to Basics!

Ø  Employment and Labour on findings of the Denel explosion inquiry

  • Media Invitation to NEHAWU Book Launch
  • South Africa
  • POPCRU condemns the attack at the Sir Lowry’s Pass police station
  • International-Workers’ Solidarity!

Ø  Two workers killed in one week at Holcim plants in India

Workers’ Parliament-Back2Basics 

Employment and Labour on findings of the Denel explosion inquiry

23 Oct 2021

Denel explosion inquiry paints a picture of structural shortcomings, defective designs and unnecessary overtime

The inquiry into the Rheinmetall Denel Munition (RDM) accident which killed eight people and injured others was told this week of structural shortcomings, defective designs as well as unnecessary overtime being put in when there were no large orders. It also heard of the necessary risk assessment not being carried out for key plant fittings.

The former site manager and chairperson of the health and safety committee, Lewis Minaar told the inquiry that at the time of the incident there was no need for workers to be working overtime.

Minaar told the commission that at the time of the incident the plant was not remotely under pressure in terms of volumes.

“We had large orders and we were producing 20 000 chargers per month for eight, nine months in a row but at the time of the incident, the plant may be for three months before and three months after was not making more than close to 20 000. I would say closer to about 5000 so the plant was definitely not running at high production. Not at all,” Minaar told the inquiry.

When probed if he was aware that there were people required to work overtime over the weekend Minaar said “I heard about that. Let me be clear about it, there is no management requirement. Management was not aware of people working overtime,” said Minaar.

Advocate Erasmus further probed why would management pay people working overtime and then overtime was not approved. Minaar said “well, when I was there, no overtime was worked without prior approval. My information says that the overtime that was worked was not approved,” emphasised Minaar.

Earlier this week the inquiry heard testimonies from a number of employees who testified that the weekend leading to the explosion there was a push for production as employees had to work overtime for material to be ready to be used for production at the N16 plant where the CBI single-base propellant was blended.

Kevin Williams who worked with Nico Samuels the deceased who was a supervisor at the N16 plant at the time said, they were working overtime in order to finish the blending of the CBI.

“When I asked Nico why we have to work on a weekend he said there was a CBI that needed to be finished,” Williams told the inquiry.

The four-day inquiry resumed on Tuesday 19 October at Community House in Salt River after an adjournment in May where 13 witnesses were cross-examined before the commission.

This time around, 17 witnesses comprising of current and former employees and technical experts were lined up to give evidence.

Giving testimony today, Civil Engineer Stephen Lapage, a specialist in the structural engineering field told the inquiry that the traverse at RDM meant to form a barrier that will set at a low angle hiding fragments from an explosion was not in agreement with what the modern rules of what a traverse design would be.

According to his statement in the investigation report he compiled, traverses can also play a role at the explosive sites away from the explosion by protecting personnel from low-end fragments, debris and providing protection from blast and flame.

If personnel are being protected by a traverse, then its design will need to ensure that it does not present additional hazards like generating several fragments. To be effective, a traverse must be constructed according to recognised specifications.

Presiding officer Mphumzi Dyulete asked if the traverse at RDM met the safety standards according to recognised specifications, Lapage responded “No. not according to modern specification.”

“The pillar of the concrete walls had the most tragic consequence of the explosion. The walls did not offer any resistance to the effect of the explosion and the collapse of the wall allowed the blast to spread to the building space. At the same time, the blast carried lethal fragments as a consequence the building collapsed and fatalities occurred,” read the statement in the report by Lapage.

He said the one basic principle in protection against explosion is distance. “The further you move away from the centre of the explosion the more you gain protection. And that increase of protection that is dramatical with the distance. A few meters would be a completely different situation. But if I remember correctly we were talking less than a meter of those walls in there. This could be verified but we were very close to those walls,” said Lapage.

The inquiry is spearheaded by the Department of Employment and Labour to investigate events leading into the Rheinmetall Denel Munition fatal incident which claimed the lives of eight employees.

Some of the information that emerged from the inquiry is that a risk assessment procedure to have a new valve fitted at the N16 plant of Rheinmetall Denel Munition (RDM) had not been commissioned and completed at the time of the incident.

During the week, the inquiry heard that the butterfly valve had been replaced with the new valve on Friday and the explosion occurred the following Monday.

The inquiry closed its second sitting today after hearing evidence from the last two witnesses. Dyulete said of the 17 witnesses, the department learned at a later stage that one had since passed on but it was not related to the incident.

Dyulete said it was vital for the enquiry to hear evidence from various witnesses before compiling a recommendations report that will be handed over by the Department’s Provincial Chief Inspector and to the National Prosecuting Authority.

“We are hoping that with the evidence provided by the witnesses that we will be able to somewhat determine what could have transpired on that fatal day. It’s been quite a long journey especially for the families who are looking to find closure on this matter,” said Dyulete.

The next sitting will be announced in due course.

Media enquiries contact:
Mapula Tloubatla
WC Provincial Communication Officer
0609897509
Mapula.T...@labour.gov.za(link sends e-mail)

Issued by: Department of Employment and Labour

_________

Media Invitation to NEHAWU Book Launch

Lwazi Nkolonzi, NEHAWU Acting National Spokesperson, 22 October 2021

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union [NEHAWU] will officially launch its first history book titled: “In the Belly of the Beast” which records in detail the history of the union in the last 30 years as a class oriented trade union with an internationalist character, a red transformative union, a fighting and militant trade union.

This historic moment for NEHAWU coincides with the union holding its 12th National Congress under the theme “Strengthen workplace organisation to defend collective bargaining, deepen class consciousness and advance internationalism"

Details of the Book Launch

The book launch will be convened as follows:

Date: Friday November 05, 2021

Time: 18H30 for 19H00

Venue: Birchwood Hotel, 14 View Point Rd, Bartlett AH, Boksburg

Members of the media are invited to attend and to cover the launch of our book.

Issued by NEHAWU Secretariat

For further information, please contact: Lwazi Nkolonzi (Acting National Spokesperson) at 081 558 2335 or email: lwa...@nehawu.org.za

Visit NEHAWU website: www.nehawu.org.za

South Africa 

POPCRU condemns the attack at the Sir Lowry’s Pass police station

Richard Mamabolo, POPCRU National Spokesperson, 24 October 2021

The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (POPCRU) is incensed by the latest continued spate of attacks on police stations, with the latest having taken place at the Sir Lowry’s Pass satellite police station.

It is reported that at around 9pm last night, three armed suspects approached two members who were on duty in the community service centre and held them at gunpoint. They disarmed the police officers and fled with two 9mm service pistols, three cellular phones and a laptop computer. 

As fortunate as it is that these police officers were not injured during the incident, it has become increasingly concerning that at every instance, these attacks are becoming a norm, and therefore compromising the much needed service delivery these stations are supposed to provide to communities. 

This brazen attack is part of a continued sequence of attacks targeted at law enforcement officers across different provinces, having left many officers either injured or deceased. They take place at a time when the criminal justice cluster is faced with many internal challenges, including understaffing and the lack of sufficient resources in efficiently servicing communities, and therefore further fuelling avoidable tensions between the two.

This necessitates a concerted effort to urgently address the difficult interactions police have with communities they are supposed to serve and protect as part of achieving our common long term objectives of attaining harmonious societies. 

There is a need to engage in prosocial activities to enhance the well-being of communities beyond law enforcement because in the end, police-community relations should always be a process where police are engaged with the communities they serve in order to make them safer and better places to live. 

When there are good police–community relations, police have a better understanding of the public’s concerns, and citizens are more inclined to report crimes that occur to the police, provide tips/intelligence to law enforcement, and willingly serve as witnesses.

By extension, police also become more proactive, thereby preventing crimes before they occur or minimizing their impact, instead of simply reacting to calls for service. Good police– community relations prevent the possibility that the public thinks that police are simply a mechanism for intelligence collection. 

When there are poor police–community relations, the police typically lack a basic understanding of community problems, goals, and desires, and the community, particularly those citizens who are experiencing high rates of crime, poverty, and homelessness, perceive police as an occupying and out-of-touch service that does more harm than good. In these situations, police primarily assume a reactive mode of response to community problems.

Any attack on police stations is an attack on the community, as it diminishes the communities’ and law enforcement agencies’ capacity to defend and fight off criminality. It is always in the best interest of all parties to work together in keeping our communities as safe spaces, and in this regard, we call for improved community-policing relations as a basis for joint efforts to end crime.

We further urge the Finance Ministry to reconsider the reduced average annual rate of 0, 8% which continues to demonstrably impact negatively on the roles and responsibilities expected to be played by law enforcement agencies.

The last budget cuts of R11, 8 billion for the 2021/22 financial years continue to have huge implications for the needed capacity in improving services to our populace.

POPCRU is of the view that the current process of restructuring the SAPS will, in the short to long-term, address the pressing issues around the duplication of functions, weak command and control, and poor service delivery at police station level. For us, the process of restructuring is informed by the need to improve conditions for the service provided, with its goals being to ensure improved productivity and morale, increased organisational effectiveness and efficiency.

We believe that through these fundamentals, the improvement and functioning of different components can easily complement each other in the best interest of serving our people, while ensuring there are more boots on the ground where crime is happening.

We call on members of society to shed light on the circumstances around this and other similar attacks so as to bring the perpetrators to book.

Issued by POPCRU

International-Solidarity 

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Two workers killed in one week at Holcim plants in India

22 October, 2021

In the space of one week, two fatalities occurred at two separate ACC cement plants in India. The circumstances surrounding the accidents has not been made clear to unions. ACC is owned by Holcim. 

A 49-year old loader, Mr Subhash, was found dead at a wagon loading machine platform at ACC Wadi Cement in Karnataka on 8 October. Mr Subhash was a member of the plant-level union of IndustriALL Global Union affiliate, the Indian National Cement Workers’ Federation (INCWF-INTUC).

On 13 October, 39-year old cement truck driver Chandra Mani Pradhan was found dead alongside his truck at ACC Bargarh Cement in Orissa after he came to load cement at the plant.

In both cases, the sequence of events leading to the fatal accidents has not been made clear, and the accidents have not been transparently investigated.

Both of the workers were third party contractors who are not employed directly by ACC. Because Mr Subhash had a permanent contract, his family will receive compensation. The family of Mr Pradhan is unlikely to receive any compensation.

Fatal accidents at ACC plants are not uncommon, and there have been numerous incidents in recent years. A major explosion at an ACC plant in Himachal Pradesh in 2020 led to the hospitalization of six workers. In 2019, three workers were killed at an ACC cement plant in Sindra.

Unions claim that this pattern of fatalities shows that Holcim is paying lip service to safety. The growing use of contract workers also undermines safety – in India, there are typically nine contractors for every permanent employee.

Holcim reported good financial results in 2020, and made large payouts to shareholders. But over the past six years, the company has reduced its permanent workforce from 140,000 to just 67,000 globally.

Holcim announced an ambition of zero harm, but the growing use of contractors undermines this ambition. Workers are still unsafe and die at work –  and the vast majority of the victims are subcontractors or third-party workers.

Materials industry director Alexander Ivanou said:

“We are deeply saddened to hear of these tragic, preventable accidents, and angered by Holcim’s continued disregard for the safety of its workforce. We are also disturbed by the fact that the details of these accidents remain murky.

“It is time for the company to recognize global unions as partners, and to start a dialogue on workers’ rights and the safety crisis in its plants. The company must comply with internationally recognized ILO health and safety standards, and allow union safety reps to inspect workplaces.

“The root of this problem is Holcim’s growing use of third-party contractors. This outsourcing undermines safety culture at the workplace, and is a major contributor to the growing list of fatal accidents.”

Deoraj Singh, general secretary of the INCWF-INTUC, said:

“ACC and Ambuja should strengthen the inspection system in all their cement plants and engage with the unions to participate and disclose all meaningful information on safety and health.

“They also should immediately stop engaging unskilled precarious workers and create a system of safety prevention, with no opportunity for shortfall. INCWF and its constituents are ready to work with Holcim management to safeguard the working conditions of cement workers.”

The general secretaries of IndustriALL and the Building and Wood Workers’ International sent a joint letter to Holcim, calling on the company to take immediate action to address the safety crisis.

__________________________

Norman Mampane (Shopsteward Editor)

Congress of South African Trade Unions

110 Jorissen Cnr Simmonds Street, Braamfontein, 2017

P.O.Box 1019, Johannesburg, 2000, South Africa

Tel: +27 11 339-4911 Direct line: 010 219-1348

 

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