The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) in the Eastern Cape region is concerned and disappointed with Eastern Cape Eskom Executive management after a new COVID-19 positive case at Sunilaw Office Park (SOP) in Eskom Eastern Cape Operating Unit (ECOU). The NUM has been warning Eskom ECOU management several times, from the initial letter we sent to Eskom ECOU Executive Management on 27th March 2020 until our last email on 16th April 2020 issues relating to COVID-19.
“On Monday 25th May 2020 we had noted that an employee tested positive for COVID-19 from Assets Creation Department. In our 16th May 2020 letter to Eskom management, we had cited the issue of forcing non-essential departments in Assets Creation Department to go back to work and do non-essential services which can be done remotely in their homes,” said Mzu Ntenteni, NUM Eastern Cape Regional Secretary.
“After that in our letter to Eskom ECOU executive management, we reference our arguments to an email send by Eskom Group Chief Executive (GCE)/CEO on 25th March 2020, which in nutshell stipulated clearly that Eskom majority of employees will work from home during the lockdown. A selected number of Eskom employees predominantly in the operation space have been identified as absolutely critical to keep the lights on, and they will be issued with permits to work. We then demanded that all Assets Creation employees be allowed to work at home and not be exposed to COVID-19 by unnecessary moving around between work and home. We had pleaded with Eskom ECOU executive management to provide necessary PPE COVID-19 Protection measurement. We cited subsection 3.2(1) of Eskom COVID-19 Protection Measure documents which state “Always assume each person you encounter, including yourself, to be positive for COVID-19. Also, assume that all surfaces are infected. We had asked Eskom ECOU executive management to provide us Work Instruction policy for COVID-19 protection for office work before that will show guidance and provide measurement to minimise infection of employees from COVID-19,” Ntenteni added.
Therefore as NUM, we are calling for accountability and suspension of all Eskom ECOU management who are continuing to work in the comfort of their homes with their families, while putting the lives of Eskom employees and NUM members in constant risk of being infected with this deadly COVID-19 virus.
We have been polite and professional in asking Eskom ECOU management not to force Assets Creation employees to come back to work and rather allow them to work at home like most of Eskom management. Sadly, Eskom ECOU Management decided to ignore our calls and undermine us as a recognised stakeholder in the Eskom business while as NUM we pointed out the COVID- 19 risks to Eskom employees. We have the emails and letters to prove that we not trying to be opportunistic but we are a pro-active trade union which always thinks ahead for Eskom employees and NUM members.
The Coronavirus is a way more dangerous than just the flu and it is killing thousands of people around the world. Many countries have declared war on the virus including South Africa. The whole world is grappling with the coronavirus crisis. NUM members and other workers cannot be sacrificed for profits during the crisis. The NUM calls on its members to refuse to work in mines and operations where necessary strict measures are not put in place to protect them from the virus. The NUM will not hesitate to name and shame mining companies that are not adhering to the strict health and safety measures in fighting the virus.
For more information, please contact:
Mzu Ntenteni, NUM Eastern Cape Regional Secretary, 066 297 8525
7 Rissik Street.
Tel: 011 377 2111