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Forming a historic and intimate part of the area’s story, the ArcelorMittal South Africa (AMSA) Newcastle Works branch has contributed significantly to the various communities for decades.
But now, as AMSA’s Newcastle Works prepares to embark on a large-scale project with its blast furnace mini-reline, can locals expect more work opportunities? This follows allegations that the steel giant would outsource the bulk of the work to external companies.
Further, noting that the interim repair of the Newcastle Works’ blast furnace will start during the first week of May 2022 and should last just over two months. Thus, creating a substantial amount of opportunity in a “peddling uphill” local economy.
With allegations causing tension, The Newcastillian – Online News approached AMSA Newcastle Works for clarity on the matter and to elaborate on job opportunities at a local level.
Addressing the matter, AMSA’s Group Manager: Stakeholder Management & Communications, Tami Didiza, explained that when there are vacancies at any AMSA site, including Newcastle, these are advertised according to the company’s formal recruitment processes.
“However, ArcelorMittal South Africa has contracted companies to do the reline of the blast furnace, which is due to start soon, and there may be temporary employment opportunities with these contractors for the duration of this project,” described Didiza.
Providing reassurance at a local level and quelling allegations, Didiza said, “In terms of their contracts, all contractors are encouraged to use local labour wherever possible to provide employment opportunities in the local communities. ArcelorMittal South Africa cannot dictate whom the contractors should employ and does not get involved in the recruitment process, but a significant portion of the labour is sourced locally.”
With this said, Didiza stated that there are specific challenges with local employment. He further said that this is why AMSA has created other mediums to support the town.
“There are only so many positions available at the Newcastle plant at any one time. It is for this reason that the company seeks to help create broader opportunities through its socio-economic development initiatives, such as the training of production learners and apprentices in partnership with local colleges for free to create much needed skills and bolster employment opportunities, and a company sponsored and supported supplier development programme to grow local SMMEs and create jobs.”
With this said, what assurances can AMSA Newcastle Works give the Newcastle community that qualified locals will be considered when job opportunities are available?
Didiza said AMSA has policies in place to hire and use local labour as far as possible in each of its operations. While the company cannot dictate the hiring practices of its contractors, they are encouraged to use local labour where practical to fulfil their contractual obligations to the company.
He added, “ArcelorMittal South Africa maintains a database of local people which contractors can use to source locally based skills, and at Newcastle, this database has been expanded working with local business forums.”
On top of this, Didiza emphasised, “ArcelorMittal South Africa can confirm that on average, up to 90% of the labour used by contracting companies at the company’s Newcastle plant have been sourced locally.”
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