South African parastatal power utility Eskom found its Medupi coal-fired power plant empty last Friday as thousands of workers failed to turn up for work in a solidarity protest against the firing of over 1,000 fellow workers last month.
The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) made the information available to Reuters with the head of collective bargaining for NUMSA Steve Nhlapo saying: “The site is not operational and there is no work being done. We are currently in negotiations with contractors and Eskom.”
On March 25, around 21,000 staff at Medupi in Lephalale, Limpopo, held a protest outside the power plant, which led to the site being shut down for the day, due to grievances about completion bonuses and working conditions.
NUMSA said its members were asking for completion bonuses to be extended beyond senior staff, the cessation of worker retrenchment with immediate effect, and an end to racialised evictions of staff from subsidized accommodation.
Medupi Unit 6
Earlier this month, Medupi’s Unit 6 was successfully synchronised to the national power grid for the first time and was being progressively tested and optimised to enable it to join the Eskom Generation fleet as a significant contributor to the country’s constrained power supply.
According to Eskom, the synchronisation process will take time to ensure that the power it delivers is stable, consistent and reliable. In addition, this process is to make sure that the unit is safe to operate, and will perform exactly as designed for the next 50 years.
From its first synchronisation, the unit has been delivering 400MW, but because of the testing and combustion optimisation, power is delivered intermittently, which will continue until it reaches optimum power estimated around the end of May 2015.
Eskom implements Stage 2 load shedding
Eskom sent out a public notice yesterday notifying consumers that Stage 2 load shedding would be implement as several units are currently out of service due to planned and unplanned outages.