Medupi workers refuse to return to work

Polokwane - Striking construction workers at Medupi power station near Lephalale rejected Eskom’s offer to return to work on Wednesday, saying they want their bonus demand to be resolved before they resume their duties.

The move came after members of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa), contractors and Eskom agreed to reinstate 1 700 workers who were fired or faced disciplinary action following an unprotected strike on March 25.

The strike focused on a demand that blue collar workers get R10 000 bonuses for the completion of unit 6, but the demand was shelved during a three-day discussion after Eskom promised to investigate the issue.

Numsa regional organiser Mahlodi Modike said union members rejected the offer to return to work, until such time as their bonuses have been paid.

“We demanded bonuses and Eskom said it was paid, but we wanted to know what happened to the money,” he said. “They promise to investigate and they asked for our members to return to work.”

Eskom betrayed workers - Numsa

The trust between workers and employers has been betrayed, sources said, explaining that Eskom has shown a tendency of forcing workers to return to work without implementing their demands.

“It has been a practice over the years,” said a member who is not authorised to speak to media. “Members don’t want to be cheated again.”

On Wednesday morning, workers allegedly blocked the road to construction sites. Police had to push protesting workers back and remove timber and stones that blocked the road.

Provincial police spokesperson Colonel Ronell Otto confirmed the incident, but said the situation was calm after a heavy police presence brought it under control.

It is not clear if Eskom and its contractors will bow down to the workers’ pressure and resume construction on the much-needed power station.

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