45 Medupi strikers arrested

Murray & Roberts employees initiated the strike on Wednesday over travel allowances.

Violent strike action erupted at the Medupi power plant in Limpopo on 24 July 2013. Picture: iWitness

LEPHALALE, LIMPOPO - Forty-five people have been arrested at Eskom's Medupi power plant in Limpopo following a violent strike on Wednesday during which twenty workers were injured.

Murray & Roberts employees initiated the strike over travel allowances.

Demonstrators set fire to cars and equipment on the site before clashing with police who managed to evacuate the area.

Eskom's Acting Group Executive for Capital Projects Dan Morokane says a leadership forum was convened on Thursday morning to discuss having the employees return to work next week.

"We're going to be ironing out the issues so we can get the site back to productivity levels as soon as possible."

The Portfolio Committee for Public Enterprises Chairman Peter Maluleka has welcomed the arrests and condemned those who embarked on the violent protests.

"The workers who embark on violence are really undermining their own cause, so that cannot be condoned."

The arrested workers are due to appear in court soon and are expected to face charges of malicious damage to property and assault.

Between 500 and 1000 workers were involved in the protests, according to Eskom's Hilary Joffe.

Jeremiah Makhoto, who has been working at the site since 2011, says spontaneous strikes happen frequently.

"Since January this year we didn't work the whole month. We worked for 20 days and had 10 days of strike."

The construction itself has been delayed until the second half of 2014, after being due to come online by the end of this year.

The portfolio committee will meet with several stakeholders over the next two days to find out exactly what led to the delay.