Numsa: Eskom’s version of ‘illegal strike’ false

While Eskom as said 1 000 workers were “fired” on Friday for participating in an “illegal strike” at the Medupi power plant this week, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) says Eskom’s version of events is not true, and is an attempt to deviate from the “real issue”. 

Section 23 of the Constitution entrenches the right to strike. The Labour Relations Act (LRA) regulations striking conditions, but makes reference to a strike being protected or unprotected, not illegal.  The LRA also stipulates that 48 hours notice must be given to trade unions before an employer can enforce a lock-out.  Eskom’s spokesperson, Khula Phasiwe, said the workers were “fired” by contractors at the Medupi plant for participating in an ”illegal strike” on Wednesday. The workers had demanded better working conditions. 

Peaceful protest
But Numsa says Eskom’s version of events is not true. Numsa says it was Eskom who shut down the whole Medupi plant in response to a peaceful protest by workers, and that workers intended to return to work the next day. Castro Ngobese, Numsa spokesperson, said the union did not call a strike at all. In any event, a strike can also never be illegal, only protected or unprotected, he said.

“There was no strike there. Our members had called a protest action and Eskom had agreed to receive the memorandum. A representative of Eskom received it. After that action we expected our members to go back to work. Eskom responded by enforcing an illegal lockout. We have called on Eskom to respond to the demands in the memorandum and to uplift the lockout,” Ngobese said. 

“Any attempt to call it something it is not is a deviation from the real issue.” The workers’ memorandum included demands for a completion of work bonus to be given to all workers, not only senior managers; for the retrenchment of workers to stop, and for an end to the “racialised eviction” of workers from their subsidised accommodation.

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Sarah Evans
Sarah Evans

Sarah Evans interned at the Diamond Fields Advertiser in Kimberley for three years before completing an internship at the Mail & Guardian Centre for Investigative Journalism (amaBhungane). She went on to work as a Mail & Guardian news reporter with areas of interest including crime, law, governance and the nexus between business and politics. 


Ayo report: CFO acted in the PIC’s interests

A disciplinary inquiry has cleared Matshepo More of all charges, but she remains suspended

A lifeline for the homeless people in eThekwini

eThekwini plans to retain permanent and safe open spaces for people with nowhere to sleep

Judge trashes entire lockdown regime as constitutionally flawed

The high court ruling will delight gatvol South Africans but is unlikely to stand the test of time

The backlogs, denials and future of testing Covid-19

The National Health Laboratory Services finally admitted to a bottleneck last week, after denying there were any issues since April. According to the service, the backlog of 80 000 tests started in the first week of May

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday