'Striking Medupi workers not employed by Eskom'

Eskom boss Brian Molefe says ending the strike is difficult because the workers are employed by contractors.

FILE: Medupi Power Station. Picture: EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Current Eskom acting CEO Brian Molefe on Wednesday said he can only try and persuade striking workers at the Medupi Power Station construction site to return to work because they're employed by private contractors.

National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) members at the plant have been on strike for over six weeks after a dispute over bonuses and an illegal march.

The strike means that work is only underway at Unit Six while the other units are simply standing idle.

Molefe said this is really in the hands of the contractor who are building Medupi.

"The strike at Medupi is really an unprotected strike. The contractors, for whom the employees gathered at the strike work for, have obtained a court interdict to stop them from striking."

But he said there are other options for the future.

"In the past, Eskom has entered into agreements, agreements that were manned to facilitate the situation so that there are no strikes going forward."

Molefe said it's important for construction work to begin again and at Medupi soon.

He said it's very difficult for him to intervene in the strike at the Medupi construction site because striking workers are employed by contractors and not by Eskom.

"The employees that work for your contractors that's building your house is the employees of the contractors and so the matter must be resolved between the employees and the employers."

Molefe said it would be unfortunate if Numsa was striking for political reasons.

"If it's a strike that is going for political reasons, that would be very unfortunate because South Africa does need that power stations to come online."

Numsa was expelled from the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) last year and has said it wants to start a new political party.

Eskom said on Wednesday that load shedding would be prolonged by the Numsa-led strike.