“We will close Medupi down” – Numsa

LEPHALALE –  Numsa vowed to close Medupi down should Eskom not respond to  a memorandum of grievances marching workers handed to Eskom Representatives who participated in a protest march last Friday.  Jerry Morulane, Regional Secretary of Numsa said Eskom had seven days to respond to their demands.

On Friday around 1500 Medupi workers and members of Numsa marched from Onverwacht to Thabo Mbeki Street where the deputy general Secretary of Numsa, Karl Cloete handed over the memorandum to Eskom representatives.

Rumours abounded this week that shots were fired during the march, but according to Lephalale police and Vetus Schola Security the march was peaceful. Several workers however reverted to stone throwing in Marapong prior to the march where an estimated 2500 workers gathered to ‘hijack’ busses on route to Medupi to transport them to the Mogol club.

According to Stephen Nhlapo, Numsa Sector Coordinator, frustrated Numsa members started stoning busses and vehicles when it became clear that bus operators halted all bus services. “We expected around 10 000 Medupi workers to join the march, but transport became a big problem. We had security guards pulling people from busses to prevent them from joining the march, a legal march at that.”

Warrant Officer, Frans Mokoena confirmed to Northern News on Friday that the march was legal, but that Numsa members were prevented from gathering at the Eskom building in town. They were re-directed to Thabo Mbeki Street opposite Shoprite.

Vetus Schola, General Manager, Marthinus Byleveldt told Northern News this week that the Company categorically denies the allegations by Nhlapo, saying that the company has and always will act within the framework of its mandate with its clients and within the context of the law, and that security guards were deployed in Marapong to prevent workers from hi-jacking busses. “Numsa failed to organize transport for the march and illegally tried to re-direct busses originally contracted to transport workers to Medupi.”

In the memorandum Numsa calls for Vetus Schola’s contract to be terminated immediately, following complaints from workers that the company employs “Congolese mercenaries” who traumatize and intimidate workers.

Byleveldt also denied these allegations, explaining that Vetus Schola was not engaged to infringe on employee rights but was only contracted to deal with violence and violent strike action and is also involved when sites are demobilised. “We have a strike force with specialised security personnel who are deployed when there is any form of strike action with a mandate to protect lives and property.”

In response to the threats Eskom commented this week by saying that “Eskom has noted the issues raised in the memorandum and will engage with trade unions and contractors to address these issues. Eskom will respond within the period requested by Numsa.”

The full memorandum is available on the Northern News website: www.noordnuus.co.za