Eskom sends executive to Medupi

By Drum Digital
20 March 2013

Eskom has sent one of its senior executives to the Medupi power station in Limpopo as it tries to meet its construction deadline, the parastatal said on Wednesday.

"As you know, Paul [O' Flaherty] resigned as we announced at our interim results and is due to leave Eskom after our annual results in July," spokeswoman Hilary Joffe said.

"He is spending more time at Medupi between now and then given that the project is on a very tight schedule, and as head of Group Capital, Paul is focused on addressing the challenges and delivering the project."

Last week, Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba said the December 2013 deadline for the Medupi power station to start delivering power would not change, despite recent interruptions.

He was adamant the deadline would not change without strict penalties being imposed on the contractors.

"I am unprepared to accept any review for the delivery schedule," Gigaba added.

He said Eskom had to do more to manage the contractors and the project.

His statement came in the same week that workers returned to their posts after the National Union of Metalworkers (Numsa) and contractors reached a resolution on the Project Labour Agreement (PLA). This ended a strike which had lasted almost eight weeks and halted construction at the power plant.

Workers had questioned the way in which their year-end bonuses were calculated, claiming this should have been done on the basis of a six-day week, and not a five-day week.

Workers also complained that employees who lived in the area were paid less than their colleagues who came in from Johannesburg. They went back on strike on March 12, after employers failed to deliver on the obligations stipulated in the PLA.

Numsa said part of the agreement to end the strike was that workers received a once-off payment of R2000, and a month's salary. They would also get an interest-free loan to the value of 90 hours of work, which they could pay back over six months.

Some of the workers were paid on March 12, but others were not. They had since been paid the R2000 and returned to work.

Gigaba said Eskom had to play a bigger role in mediating between the contractors and employees. He said unions and employers had to bear in mind the need for labour peace, higher productivity, the project's strategic importance and the urgency to complete it.

-by Sapa

Find Love!