A USD 21 Mn Chinese-Owned Factory Is Paying For Its ‘COVID-19 Sins’ In South Africa

By  |  July 27, 2020

The Chinese electronics manufacturer, Hisense, has had its celebrated factory in South Africa shuttered by government agents after appearing to violate the country’s COVID-19 control regulations.

Hisense TV and appliance factory in Atlantis — a community approximately 50 kilometres north of the Cape Town CBD — has been operating in South Africa since 2013, manufacturing flat-screen televisions and refrigerators and employing up to 500 people.

Last week, the Employment and Labour Department found Hisense to be in contravention of the Occupational Health and Safety Act following an inspection.

During the inspection, it was found that Hisense lacked provisions for COVID-19 safety protocols in its “outdated” risk assessment document. Also, it was observed that the factory hadn’t distributed PPEs adequately.

According to reports, it was also discovered that the electronics manufacturer was running afoul of basic guidelines of the Occupational Health and Safety Act. 

Further checks revealed that a group of Chinese workers was squeezed into a tight workspace, flouting social distancing rules while another set of employees were crammed into a temporary boardroom.

The final straw was perhaps the failure of the USD 21 Mn Atlantis factory – one of only five launched by the company outside of China at the time of establishment – failed to provide a sanitation plan. The factory was consequently closed down by officials who served a prohibition notice on the plant.

“Prohibition notices essentially means that no work may take place at the premises where the notice was served,” the department stated. “The Department had no option but to close the entire plant due to non-compliance.”

In addition to the prohibition notice, the department also placed the Hisense factory under review as the company could not produce any Employment Equity compliance documents. The factory was thus ordered to produce evidence of compliance within 14 days.

As MyBroadband reported, David Esau, the Provincial Chief Inspector, said the employer “must provide evidence that processes have been put in place to address all the concerns raised” before a reversal can be implemented. 

The department stated that Occupational Health and Safety inspectors will conduct a follow-up visit once Hisense has confirmed that all minimum standards have been put in place to ensure the safety of all its employees. And if satisfied with Hisense’s efforts, the prohibition notice will be lifted.

Featured Image Courtesy: China.org

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