Cosatu: Address Medupi protest demands

2012-09-12 20:38

Johannesburg - Eskom needs to host a job summit to discuss the demands of protesting contractors at its Medupi power station in Limpopo, Cosatu said on Wednesday.

"While we welcome the project which forms part of the Medupi legacy programme, which is intended to empower the communities of Lephalale and surroundings, our questions remain unanswered," Congress of SA Trade Unions Lephalale branch secretary Kushca Tlhoaela said in a statement.

"Why are you not engaging the same people you are retrenching or demobilising to work [on] that project until the end of the year? As Cosatu we call [for] an urgent job summit to be called by Eskom to deal with this matter."

Four people were arrested for intimidation on Tuesday morning in Lephalale village, where Medupi is situated. Police spokesperson Lieutenant Ronel Otto said at the time that buses were burnt at Ditloung village near the Medupi power station.

"Around 01:00, it was found that three buses used to transport workers to the power station were burning."

On Thursday last week, about 80 workers contracted by Murray & Roberts and Grinaker-LTA damaged several vehicles and some equipment at the power plant.

The workers protested because the contracts of about 600 local employees were due to end. Tlhoaela said Cosatu and its affiliated unions intended holding peaceful marches, protests and strikes.

"We call all the affiliates to ensure that these principles are enforced and take actions against those who refuse to comply. If union members are proved to have been the offenders, they must be educated and be disciplined."

He said the government needed to look into the concerns of the protesting workers. It needed to make arrangements for the 17 000 workers who would be retrenched by the sub-contractors of Eskom in the upcoming months.

He claimed the move was the largest single retrenchment in post-apartheid South Africa.

The government needed to look into the volatility of the region, and the probability of potential violence and unrest during the retrenchments.

Medupi, a 4 764MW power station, was expected to start generating power for the national grid next year.