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Wildcat strike at Eskom's Medupi site enters sixth week

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A general view of the construction site at the Medupi power station in Lephalele, in a file photo. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko play A general view of the construction site at the Medupi power station in Lephalele, in a file photo. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - A wildcat strike at the building site of South African electricity utility Eskom's Medupi power station entered its sixth week on Wednesday, disrupting construction of the crucial plant.

Thousands of workers at Medupi, which started producing power in March from one of six units being built, downed tools in March in protest at poor living conditions and demanding higher pay.

"The continued unprotected industrial action is in its sixth week and has resulted in construction delays," Eskom said.

Spokesman Khulu Phasiwe said if the stay-away continued for another two weeks it would be difficult to catch up on construction work.

Phasiwe also said it was too early to gauge the impact of the industrial action on delivery of the whole project, which has already been delayed by 18 months.

Medupi, which is now expected to be completed in 2021, would become South Africa's first new major power station to come online in 20 years and help address a chronic supply shortage.

At full capacity it will produce 4,800 megawatts of power, about 12 percent of Eskom's total capacity.

The cash-strapped utility needs to add much-needed megawatts to the strained grid to keep the lights on in Africa's most advanced economy.

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