Tools down after death

2014-04-14 00:00

HUNDREDS of workers at Ramsay Engineering are expected to be back at work today after they downed tools last week after a colleague died at work.

Workers claim the man died after his manager shouted at him.

Mbongiseni Mthembu, the brother of Tomas Mthembu who collapsed and died at work on Thursday, said they were shocked to receive the news of the death of his brother.

“We did not expect this, even though he had been complaining about one of the managers that was ill-treating him; we did not think it would end like this,” said Mthembu.

He said his brother left a wife and three minor children.

According to the union and the workers, about 800 workers at Ramsay Engineering in Woodlands embarked on a strike on Thursday following the death of Mthembu on the company premises.

It is alleged that Mthembu was confronted by one of the managers who shouted at him, blaming him for being slow and a few minutes later he collapsed. They tried to take him to hospital in a bakkie.

“He was already dead when they put him in the car as no one had phoned for an ambulance,” said the source.

This happened at about 10 am in the morning and staff were notified at 2 pm.

“We decided that we were not going to work in these conditions when one of our members can be treated like that; next time it could be me.”

While the strike was in progress workers were released to go home.

Members of the National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (Numsa) and the management met for an hour trying to resolve the matter on Friday.

Police were at the gate to monitor the strike at the factory.

Local organiser of Numsa, Mbonisi Sibisi, said they met with the company and agreed that the manager that workers allege shouted at Mthembu should take leave and an investigation be instituted.

“The Department of Labour will investigate and there will be an inquiry, but workers will be back at work on Monday,” said Sibisi.

In a statement by the joint chief executives at Ramsay Engineering yesterday, they said they hoped to have a preliminary report about the incident by Wednesday.

“It is believed that the man died from natural causes linked to an existing medical condition and we are still gathering details about his condition,” Angus Anderson and Stuart Beaumont explained.

They said the results of the report will be shared with Numsa and the company’s employees.

They said 300 workers downed tools halting production at the factory for several hours at the Woodlands plant on Friday, saying that they wanted answers about the incident.

The company strictly adheres to the health and safety protocols of the OHSAS 18000 certifications and follows the necessary procedures, said Anderson and Beaumont.

“We have very swift emergency responses and they were followed to the letter on Thursday.

“We are still carrying out our investigation. Due to doctor-patient confidentiality we will have to get the family’s permission for the information to be released,” Anderson said.

He said the employee was on light duty, having been diagnosed with a heart condition and was receiving treatment at Addington Hospital, Durban. He also regularly visited the company clinic.

“Within a minute or two of the worker collapsing, a first-aider was by his side. The first-aider and a driver had the patient at the company clinic within minutes, where the sister immediately took him to Northdale Hospital. However, all efforts to revive the patient proved unsuccessful.

“It’s obviously a very emotional time for everyone and the company offers its deepest sympathy to the family and fellow employees,” Beaumont said.

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