NUM Western Cape region is concerned after an employee tested positive for Coronavirus at Koeberg Power Station

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) in the Western Cape region is disturbed and saddened by the conduct of Koeberg Power Station management. Koeberg Power station management does not respect the lives of its employees. The priority of Koeberg management is production over the life of our members. 

On the 27th of April 2020, an employee in the Operating department fell sick and was sent for testing. It emerged that the said employee tested positive for COVID19. According to the “Eskom guidelines or the containment/Management of the Coronavirus (COVID 19) “, when there is a confirmed COVID 19 case the following amongst other things must be done:

• An employee who has been diagnosed with COVID 19 may not come to work.

• Such an employee will be isolated for 14 days or more based on the clinical findings. 

• If COVID 19 was contracted in the workplace, the affected workplace or station must be barricaded immediately so that it can be cleaned or disinfected within 48 hours.

In the case of the employee who tested positive at Koeberg, the area was never immediately barricaded. Employees were still allowed in the workplace which had possible Coronavirus contamination. 

The other requirements which are found in the Eskom document which is aligned to the national regulations it that if an employee was in close contact with a confirmed COVID 19 case the following amongst other things must be done:

• An employee who was in close contact must be instructed to stay at home, not come to work and immediately self-quarantine at home for a period of 14 days.

In the case of Koeberg, the employee who tested positive was working with 21 other employees. It was also confirmed that he also interacted with other employees in other departments like the Outage Control Center. The employees who come into contact are still not self-quarantined. They are still required to attend work as per their shift roster. 

In a separate incident that also took place at Koeberg, we as NUM, we were also reliably informed that security personnel who is a Koeberg employee came into contact with a contractor driver who is confirmed to have tested positive for COVID 19 but he was not sent home. He was also not immediately asked to self-quarantine instead he was asked to report to duty.

Given the above-mentioned cases, Koeberg management is compromising the safety of our members. Our understanding of nuclear professionalism is that safety comes first. In the case of Koeberg production comes first and safety is compromised. 

The NUM is calling on the Department of Health and the Department of Labour to investigate the conduct of Koeberg Power Station management. The NUM and all its members at Koeberg are willing to provide evidence to back our observation. 

 It is safe for us to conclude that the health and safety of employees have been violated knowingly, willingly and deliberately. 

For more information, please contact: 

Khangela Baloyi, NUM Eskom Full Time Shop Steward in Western Cape, 072 450 6251