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Number of fatalities rises to ten at Gerdau's Brazil plant

16 October, 2017Another worker has died as a result of negligence at Gerdau's Ouro Branco plant in Brazil, bringing the total number of fatalities to ten in less than one year.

Alicleia de Aquino Silva, a welder at the Ouro Branco plant, died on 8 October. He had been hospitalized since 15 August, after a chimney explosion during maintenance work of a gas tower.

Fernando Alves Peixoto, Cristiano Rodrigo Marcelino, Sandro Barbosa Gomes and Levindo Costa de Carvalho Neto also died as a result of that explosion. In less than one year, ten workers have been killed at the Ouro Branco plant.

“Our union has been at the side of the families throughout this critical phase. We made ourselves available to the families of all those involved in this terrible accident. We have to say ‘enough’ to these kinds of accidents!”

said the Ouro Branco Metalworkers’ Union (SINDOB), affiliated to the CNTM/FS, which is in turn affiliated to IndustriALL Global Union) in an official statement.

On 10 October, the union called a halt to work at Gerdau’s Ouro Branco plant in protest at the safety problems and placed ten white crosses as symbols of the dead workers.

Recently, workers’ representatives for IndustriALL's base metals sector met in Paris, France, and reaffirmed their commitment to support the Gerdau World Workers’ Committee in its demand that the company recognize unions at national and global level, and improve health and safety at its plants.

The committee visited the Gerdau Ouro Branco plant for the first time in May, and approved an action plan to promote a health and safety policy capable of preventing a repetition of this kind of accident.

Valter Sanches, IndustriALL General Secretary, has written several times to Gerdau’s CEO, André Johannpeter, to express his anger at the terrible working conditions at Gerdau, but has so far to receive a reply.

“It is unacceptable that the lack of preventive maintenance of equipment, excessive working hours and outsourcing of labour relations at the company continues to endanger the lives of workers. We call on Gerdau to recognize the Workers’ Network and open a dialogue with the trade unions to create a health and safety committee and together establish the parameters necessary to guarantee healthy and safe working conditions. With this, we will be able to avoid further accidents and deaths at Gerdau plants,” said Sanches.