Two Gerdau workers lost their lives on 15 August after an explosion at the company's steel plant in Ouro Branco, Brazil.
Gerdau workers continue to die because of health and safety problems at the company's plants. Less than a year after an accident caused the death of three employees, the same plant was again the scene of a tragedy.
“This is the fourth major accident in less than a year at the plant, which employs around 2,000 workers. Last year, five workers died in three separate accidents,” said Jorge García-Orgales of the Gerdau World Workers’ Committee."
On this occasion, the incident occurred at the top of a chimney on Coking Plant 2 during maintenance of a gas tower. Two workers were killed, including an outsourced worker, another two are in intensive care and in a serious condition and others were injured.
The Ouro Branco Metalworkers’ Union (SINDOB, affiliated to the CNTM, which is in turn affiliated to IndustriALL Global Union) called a halt to work at the plant for one hour and announced it will consider further action during the week. Sindob attributes the deaths to the lack of preventive maintenance.
The coordinator of the Gerdau World Workers' Committee and general secretary of the CNM/CUT (affiliated to IndustriALL), Loricardo de Oliveira, reported that the Committee is calling workers at all Gerdau facilities in Brazil and in other countries to mobilize on 23 August in solidarity with the steelworkers of the plant of Ouro Branco and against precarious work at all plants of the company.
The Gerdau World Workers’ Committee visited Gerdau's Ouro Branco plant for the first time in May and approved an action plan to promote a health and safety policy capable of preventing this type of accident.
Fernando Lopes, Director at IndustriALL and a union leader at a Gerdau plant in Brazil said:
“This proves that Gerdau's zero accident policy does not work. After so many deaths, it is time the company sat down with the unions to discuss a serious safety policy at its plants.”