Lights out at Medupi as illegal strike drags on
There is no end in sight to the delays in the construction of the Medupi power station. The workers are not working and the government is reluctant to intervene. Yesterday, the police were called in to disperse workers who tried to block the road leading to the power station, in Lephalale, Limpopo.Eskom said workers trying to report for duty were ordered off their buses by strikers.On March 2, Eskom said the first of the six power-generating units at Medupi had been synchronised to the national power grid, which would result in about 794MW being fed into the grid in three months' time.But on March 25 workers went on an illegal strike. About 1700 of them were fired but the National Union of Metalworkers of SA negotiated their reinstatement.Yesterday, only 2400 workers were on site; about 12000 stayed away.Numsa's deputy general secretary, Karl Cloete, said: "Workers want to return to work on the understanding that their demands are met."It is mainly three issues. The first is sorting out the conditions at the hostels that workers have complained about."The second is to deal with living-out allowance and to resolve the completion bonuses."If Eskom and the contractors want to have this thing resolved, they must respond to those reasonable demands," Cloete said.On Friday, contractors on site secured a court interdict against strike-related violence and the disruption of work.Eskom spokesman Khulu Phasiwe said: "Our doors are open to resolve this matter. We have been trying by all means to get workers back to work ... The ball is in the hands of Numsa to help us get the workers to work."Since the beginning of construction in 2007 there have been 18 months of work stoppages at Medupi.Department of Labour acting spokesman Mokgadi Pela said: "The department does not involve itself in issues of industrial action."