26 March 2013

Mozambique: Soft Drinks Company Closed Over Safety

Maputo — The General Inspectorate of the Mozambican Labour Ministry on Monday ordered the suspension of all activities of the Fizz soft drinks factory, in the southern city of Matola, due to the appalling working conditions in the factory, according to a report in Tuesday’s issue of the Maputo daily “Noticias”.

The General Inspector of Labour, Joaquim Siuta, visited the factory, owned by the company Mopane Internacional, after an explosion on Sunday morning which killed one worker, 35 year old Yolanda Mendes, and seriously injured a second, Alexandre Felicio.

Inside the factory, Siuta found that workers had to operate under life-threatening conditions. There was no appropriate equipment to prevent accidents or occupational illnesses, or to protect the work force.

Siuta recommended that the company bear the costs of the funeral of Yolanda Mendes, and take legal responsibility for her dependents.

Mendes had worked in the sector of the factory which makes the plastic bottles that hold the drinks. The machine she was operating blew and she was hit on the head and foot by several fragments of the machine. She was not wearing a helmet or any other protective clothing.

The same explosion put Felicio into Maputo Central Hospital, where he was visited on Monday by Labour Minister Helena Taipo.

The Fizz factory may only re-open after it installs all the legally required safety equipment, and after a second inspection by the Labour Ministry.

Fizz was the second soft drinks company to suffer a fatal accident in the space of less than a week. Last Thursday, a fire at the Maputo Pepsi-Cola bottling plant, took the life of a worker.

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