SOUTH AFRICAN CHEMICAL WORKERS UNION PRESENTATION TO THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON LABOUR BY JOSEPH MAQHEKENI
Date: 15th February 2005
Venue: Committee Room V475, 4th Floor Old Assembly Wing
Agenda: The Committee Meeting Labour Representatives to discuss Safety Matters at Sasol
The Chairperson, Madam Comrade Kasienyane, of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Labour on behalf of SACWU the Employees of SASOL Ltd, the Community of SASOLBURG and SECUNDA where these accidents have taken place, and on my own behalf, I appreciate your prompt response. Your visit accompanied by the Portfolio Committee to the Natref Plant in Sasolburg on
4th February 2005 is highly applauded. In deed this has demonstrated the Governments slogan "Batho Pele". We hope this will signal to many employers that the peoples Government cares for the safety of the people in their workplaces. Your invitation to Labour is highly appreciated. As National President of the South African Chemical Workers Union I have put aside all other engagements to honour this interaction between ourselves and your committee.
Safety Matters at Sasol Limited
If one considers the recent spate of accidents In Secunda where 10 people lost their lives, the majority of these employees were contractors some employed by Labour Brokers
The 2 employees who died whilst loading the tanker in Natref late last year were contractors
The accident that took place on the 26th January 2005 at the Natref HF plant that led to the oberservation of 17 employees at the hospital, resulting in some of the workers been hospitalised for a night, this indicates the need for Sasol to focus n the extensive training of contractors at all the Sasol plants.
You heard yourself during your own investigation at Natref that some workers did not know what to do when the gas explosion occurred at the plant.
Without pre- empting the out come of the investigation at Secunda or Natref Sasols safety, Health and Environment policies are good but the implementation thereof is a problem.
3. Implementation of Safety Standards by contractors
Some Labour Brokers who are suppose to observe the safety rules do not know these rules. All Labour Brokers who have contracts with Sasol and who are supposed to be monitored whether they maintain the code of good practice are not inspected. We were interacting with many Labour Brokers on the site and have checked whether they have ever been inspected over two years, the answer is a Big No.
The Contractors have no safety Reps who should be doing inspections and making reports.
4. What can be done?
5. Permanent Employees of Sasol.
6. Sasol Plants and Shutdown Schedules
Some plants are very old and have been in use for over 50 years. Although there are some improvements in other plants, the majority of plants require urgent refurbishment. This needs further investigation to ensure how big this problem is.
Some shutdowns are done only over (3) three years. The products or chemicals these plants produce are very corrosive and cannot stand the three-year shutdown schedules. Our suggestion is that plants should not be operational for more than 18 months without major inspections through shutdowns. This can be safety hazard if it is not discontinued soon.
Sasol has engaged the Consultant Du Pont from the U.S.A to find what improvements can be done. We have been consulted by Sasol on this issue for our inputs. We will as a union make our contributions to ensure that the situation improves. We are going to call for the implementation of the recommendations when they are reported, with the hope that accidents will be minimised or eliminated.
The Department of Labour is in the process of restructuring these Acts. As an affiliate of NACTU we will be part of a NEDLAC Labour workshop on the 1st and 2nd March 2005 on the restructuring of these Acts.
The safety standards in the Chemical Industry have detoriated over the past 3 years in comparison to the mining sector where vast improvements have been made.
My presentation above have high lighted the importance of the Health and Safety Reps. These reps need to be regulated and be on permanent basis as in the case in the mining industry and their training needs to supplemented by independent experts. Our inputs in these Acts will also include that the Department of Labour will have to improve and empower the inspectorate division. We hope those regulations on these Acts will be implemented soon.
President S.A CHEMICAL WORKERS UNION