Eskom CEO, Andre De Ruyter, said that the power utility could implement stage 6 load-shedding on Tuesday night.
The South African power utility implemented stage 4 load-shedding after “unlawful industrial action” at some of its power stations in the past few days. The company says that this has impacted planned maintenance and repairs, and at some stations, the full complement of workers have not reported for duty.
This comes after the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) has been at loggerheads with Eskom over salary increases – the union demanded a 15% increase, which the utility company previously said it could not afford. Numsa alleged that the power utility walked out during talks to find a resolution. In a media briefing on Tuesday, De Reyter said there have been productive meetings with the unions and they are planning to meet again on Tuesday, according to News24.
De Ruyter added that they want to pay their workers fair wages.
“We want to pay our workers fair wages. But when workers engage in illegal actions, you cannot blame Eskom,” De Ruyter said.
The possibility of stage 6 load-shedding has not been confirmed as yet. However, should it reach that point it means that the power could be out for 6 hours during the day. Jan Oberholzer, COO at Eskom, said that should the protest persist load-shedding could reach stage 8.
“Should this unlawful action continue, and if people are selfish – the risk will increase. We may be approaching a higher stage of load shedding if this unlawful action continues. Human capacity is important and people can only work so much under constraints,” Oberholzer said.
Oberholzer added that he believes there is damage at some power stations.
“I believe we do have damage at some power stations. Some equipment, like the coal conveyor system. We haven’t had the opportunity to quantify what it is. As soon as we recover, we can then assess and quantify in rand value and other impacts. We still do have events at the station we do not understand, and do not make sense,” he said.
De Ruyter said there have been no arrests of any protesters as yet.
“We will consider laying criminal charges in confirmed cases of arson or violence,” he said.
By Zintle Nkohla
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