Eskom has warned that stage two load shedding will increase after several employees downed tools in what appears to be unprotected strike action following a deadlock in wage negotiations on Tuesday.
Over the past 24 hours, several staff members have been protesting at nine power stations and other operating facilities.
Protests and power cuts
Eskom staff sabotage operations
According to the parastatal, these protests included incidents of intimidation of other working employees and blocking off roads leading to power stations and other facilities.
As a result, the free flow of personnel and commodities required for the generation of electricity and smooth operations have been affected.
“The increased unavailability of plants has necessitated an extensive usage of emergency
generation reserves, which are depleting faster than can be replenished,” said Eskom in a statement.
Intensified power cuts
It’s warning that should the intimidation and demonstrations persist and spread, there would be an additional risk of operational disturbances, resulting in higher levels of load shedding for the weekend.
“Ahead of these disturbances, the power system had already been under considerable strain for a while, with Stage 2 load shedding currently being implemented.
The provision of electricity is an essential service in which industrial action is not permitted,” said Eskom.
Numsa wage deadlock
The struggling power utility has pleaded with labour partners and striking employees to “embrace the higher purpose of putting the people of South Africa first, respect the law and desist from illegal and
“While exploring possible solutions to unlock the deadlock on the wage talks, Eskom has reported these acts of illegality to the South African Police Service and requested the assistance of the Saps and other security services in restoring order.”
The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) said it had met with Eskom management under the auspices of the Central Bargaining Forum (CBF) for the fourth round of wage talks.
Wage negotiations were set down for the 21st and the 22nd of June.
Numsa said it and other unions had submitted their revised demands with the expectations there would be a final round of negotiations.
Wage talk walkout
“However, after Numsa made its opening remarks, Eskom management responded by declaring a dispute and then it walked out of the venue,” said the union in a statement.
“Numsa simply asked the question; ‘Why is Eskom taking money meant for workers, and using it to pay billions to diesel suppliers, owners of coal contracts and Independent Power Producers (IPP’s)?” Eskom refused to respond to the question. Instead, it staged a walkout.”
The union is accusing the power utility of “refusing to account for corrupt coal and IPP contracts that are being paid for through taxpayer money.”
“We have repeatedly requested that Eskom disclose in full the nature of these contracts, who are the beneficiaries, and their value, but they have refused,” said Numsa.
Meanwhile, Eskom thanked the majority of its employees, who are diligently performing their duties and many going beyond the call of duty.