Construction halted at Medupi Power Station

Eskom confirms that all 21,000 workers walked off the construction site this morning.

FILE: The Medupi power station under construction in Limpopo. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Power utility Eskom has confirmed that work on the Medupi power station in Lephalale, Limpopo, has been stopped for the day after all 21,000 workers downed tools this morning.

Metalworkers union Numsa says a one-day stay-away has been called after repeated attempts to address issues around accommodation and bonuses.

Numsa is one of the recognised unions at Eskom and says all the unions at the power station are taking part in the stay-away.

Numsa's head of collective bargaining Steve Nhlapo is accusing the company of discrimination.

"They are doing this especially to black workers. They are moving them from their current accommodation at the hostel. There is no white person living in that hostel. So it is discrimination."

Medupi is meant to provide Eskom with an additional 4,800 megawatts of power capacity, but the project has been delayed for three years.

Meanwhile, Public Enterprise Minister Lynne Brown said although the Medupi station has started producing electricity, the full impact will only be felt in three to six months' time.

On 2 March, Medupi's unit six synchronised with the national power grid as it prepares for June, when the parastatal aims to bring the entire unit online.