On Friday Eskom, a power utility firm in South Africa warned that there would be more load-shedding if protests at its stations and facilities persisted.
According to Mail & Guardian, the power utility firm confirmed on Thursday that indeed there was protest action outside of its six power stations with marchers blocking the roads leading to them. Eskom spokesperson Sikonathi Mantshantsha confirmed that the said power stations included Duvha, Hendrina, Matla, Arnot in Mpumalanga, Medupi, and Matimba in Limpopo.
“These protests included incidents of intimidation of working employees and blockading of roads leading to power stations and other facilities, inhibiting the free flow of personnel and commodities required for the generation of electricity and smooth operations,” Eskom said in a statement, according to News24.
“The increased unavailability of plant has necessitated an extensive usage of emergency generation reserves, which are depleting faster than can be replenished,” it added.
Eskom said that further intimidation of employees and the persistence of this strike might cause operational disturbances and therefore lead to higher stages of load-shedding. SA is currently facing stage 2 load-shedding, which is expected to last up until midnight on Sunday.
These protests are the result of wage talks between Eskom and labour unions which were put to a halt this week.
In May, the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) demanded a 15% wage increase, which Eskom said it could not afford, according to News24.
“Eskom appeals to its labour partners and striking employees to embrace the higher purpose of putting the people of South Africa first, respect the law and to desist from illegal and undemocratic conduct,” the power utility said.
Numsa reportedly said that Eskom stopped the talks because it did not want to be held accountable for spending on coal and Independent Power Producer contracts.
“We successfully demonstrated to the Central Bargaining Forum last week that primary energy costs were collapsing Eskom. We were able to show that Eskom can afford to pay workers increases, but they choose not to. De Ruyter and the board are taking away workers’ benefits and wages to fund dirty procurement contracts,” it said.
By Zintle Nkohla
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