Labour protest further blow to Medupi build schedule

by Siseko Njobeni, 07 September 2012, 08:44

The Medupi power stattion. Picture: AVUSAWORKERS at Eskom’s Medupi power station site in Lephalale, Limpopo, were sent home yesterday after vehicles and equipment were damaged in a protest, the power utility said. The dispute could place more pressure on the schedule for the power station’s completion.

The schedule is already under the spotlight because of repeated delays. Last year Eskom said Medupi’s schedule had been affected by performance on the boiler contracts.

Thousands of protesters torched two buses last year and damaged four vehicles during a strike at the Medupi site, with the police saying residents claimed Eskom had employed experienced foreign boiler makers without considering the locals for the positions.

The 4,764MW power station was to be commissioned this year. This has been moved on to next year. Commissioning the plant will be a major milestone for SA, as the additional capacity would provide extra power for SA’s constrained national grid supply.

In a statement yesterday, Eskom said calm had been restored at the site, after the protest action by a group of workers earlier in the day.

“The protest was contained rapidly, but all workers on site were sent home as a precautionary measure, to ensure the safety of people and equipment. The protest action by the workers — who are employed by the Medupi Power Station Joint Venture, resulted in some damage to vehicles and equipment, but there were no injuries. Eskom is engaging with contractors and stakeholders to resolve the situation,” Eskom said.

The joint venture company, which includes Murray & Roberts Construction and Grinaker-LTA, is the civil engineering contractor on the project. Murray & Roberts spokesman Ed Jardim said yesterday the dispute started after the joint venture decided to “demobilise” about 600 employees from the site. About 17,000 workers are employed at the Medupi site.

“With a project of this nature, you often have to add new employees or demobilise existing employees, in line with the labour project plan. A group of about 60 employees were not happy with their demobilisation ,” Mr Jardim said.

He was not sure when the workers would return to site, saying discussions were under way between Eskom and companies with contracted employees on the site.

Eskom spokeswoman Hilary Joffe said yesterday the priority was to get the workers back on site.


more at …Labour protest further blow to Medupi build schedule | BusinessDay | BDlive.

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