Factories face prosecutions after raids

Posted On Wednesday, 07 August 2002 10:01 Published by
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The Department of Labour will recommend prosecutions of certain factories in Johannesburg after raids carried out this week found contravention of Occupational Health and Safety
By Thabang Mokopanele

The Department of Labour will recommend prosecutions of certain factories in Johannesburg after raids carried out this week found contravention of Occupational Health and Safety (OHS), the Department's Chief Directorate of Communications Snuki Zikalala told I-Net Bridge.

Zikalala said the department closed a Johannesburg textile factory last night after inspectors found that there were no emergency exits.

'The only exit available to workers had a pile of highly flammable materials right in front of it,' he said.

Zikalala said the inspectors also found that the workers at Bhadelia Textiles had been locked in the factory overnight.

'In another late night raid, labour inspectors discovered that the owners of Snaktaque, a peanut butter and ground corn chips manufacturer, had defied an earlier prohibition order shutting the factory down.'

'The Department of Labour will work with the Department of Justice to ensure the owners of the factory are prosecuted.'

Zikalala said these were two of four follow-up blitzes OHS Inspectors conducted last night. 'Earlier in the day inspectors blitzed light industrial areas in Johannesburg following tip-offs from the SABC.'

'These raids are merely a starting point. During the course of yesterday's activities we identified a number of other operations in the area that we will be investigating during the next few weeks,' the deputy director general of the department of labour Van Mkosana warned in a statement.

'The Department of Labour will not hesitate to close any business where workers lives are systematically and unnecessarily put at risk, such as in these instances,' he added.

'The Department is also concerned that companies that incur additional costs by providing a safe working environment for staff are facing unfair competition from these unscrupulous operators,' Mkosana said.

'Our inspectors are also willing to assist factory owners in achieving compliance with OHS regulations. Should any owner or manager have concerns that they are not compliant, please contact the Department of Labour's offices in your region and we will assist you.'

Zikalala said that yesterday the department raided 12 Johannesburg companies, closing down two workplaces because of serious contraventions of the OHS Act.

During the raids on the other 10 businesses, 37 OHS contraventions were identified and 15 prohibition notices issued thus stopping operations.

'Contraventions of this nature are particularly disturbing, especially after the signing of the OHS Accords between Labour, Business and the state earlier this year. The Department calls on labour and business to work harmoniously to ensure the effective implementation of the Accords,' Mkosana said.

'We are also concerned by the number of illegal immigrants we found working in these factories. These people are particularly vulnerable, some of them have been locked in factories overnight, with no ventilation and windows barred with barbwire. These workers are not registered for UIF or Compensation and are working 10-hour days for as little R500 per month,' Mkosana said.

'I want to emphasise what the Minister has said on a number of occasions, that the Department of Labour believes workers go to work to work and not to die,' Mkosana said.

Zikalala added that the raids would continue nationwide but other provinces needed to take initiatives in helping the department.

I-Net Bridge

Publisher: I-Net Bridge
Source: I-Net Bridge

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