Thousands told to vacate Medupi hostels after strike

Eskom’s decision to vacate the hostels follows reports that workers reporting for duty were threatened.

FILE: Eskom's Medupi Power Station. Picture: Supplied.

JOHANNESBURG - An unprotected strike at the Medupi Power Station over living conditions and bonuses is now in its sixth week and Eskom says 8,000 workers in its hostels have been told to vacate the premises.

In April 21,000 workers downed tools after repeated attempts to address issues around accommodation and bonuses.

Construction at Medupi has been severely delayed but Eskom said work on unit six, which is already online, has continued.

The utility's decision to vacate the hostels follows reports that workers who tried to report for duty have been intimidated.

Eskom's Khulu Phasiwe said the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) members are using the hostels as a base to conduct their strike.

"Unfortunately, people are using our very own facilities, they are using our hostels as a base to wreak havoc and stop people from going to work. And those who are going to continue with the industrial action, then obviously they can do that but not in our facility."

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.

Medupi is meant to provide Eskom's ailing grid with an additional 4,800 megawatts of power capacity.