A protest action that erupted on Monday morning, May 22, 2022, caused disruptions to traffic flow outside ArcelorMittal Newcastle.
This resulted in Newcastle Police swiftly responding to the situation to restore order and ensure the safety of all individuals involved.
The protest action was organised by the Abaqondisi group, in conjunction with other community organisations, as part of a larger movement referred to as the “mother of all strikes.”
The demonstrators commenced their protest at approximately 4 am, strategically targeting the entrances to ArcelorMittal Newcastle.
The primary demands put forth by the protestors were centered around securing employment opportunities for locals, fostering business prospects, and urging corporate social investment from the steel giant.
As a result of the protest action, traffic congestion ensued near the ArcelorMittal main gates, adjacent to the Traffic Department. Furthermore, the road leading to ArcelorMittal by Amcor Dam was closed off, compounding the traffic disruption.
Law enforcement swiftly deployed officers to the affected areas in response to the protests, as the situation hindered the smooth flow of traffic. Protestors allegedly engaged in the dangerous act of throwing rocks at passing motorists near the Amcor entrance of ArcelorMittal.
The police response was swift and robust, successfully bringing the situation under control. Consequently, the roads were reopened, allowing traffic to resume its normal flow.
To ensure the situation did not escalate further, law enforcement personnel will maintain a vigilant presence throughout the day, monitoring the area closely.
ArcelorMittal’s Tami Didiza explained that ArcelorMittal South Africa is committed to promoting and encouraging economic growth at both a national and local level, and is doing whatever it can in instances where there are direct or indirect employment opportunities in the company.
Looking at the organisations involved in the protest action, Didiza said, “We had a meeting with these forums on 31 March last year, together with the local Municipality to understand their issues and map a way forward.
From this meeting, he noted that it was decided to form one umbrella body under the auspices of the LED of the Municipality to seek these employment and business opportunities, not focusing only on ArcelorMittal South Africa but other businesses.
“Unfortunately, it appears that the issue is not about creating employment opportunities, but doing so through a particular forum. This cannot be accepted, as it is not in keeping with good governance and will lead to abuse. No particular forum or individual should hold ArcelorMittal South Africa or the Newcastle Community to ransom to ensure that employment opportunities are only channeled through them,” said Didiza.
With the participants of the protest going back on their word when looking at the meeting held between them and ArcelorMittal in 2022, Didiza said a way forward was not being looked at. In addition, another meeting will be held with the participants of the protest, as well as the Newcastle Municipality. However, Didiza noted that if the meeting was not facilitated by the Municipality, the steel giant would not be a part of it.
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