Workers walkout at Eskom plant

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Johannesburg - Members of the National Union of Mineworkers defied South African state-owned power producer Eskom by staging a walkout over wages at its Duvha plant, the labour group said.

About 450 members of the union congregated outside the facility today “in support of the wage dispute,” Stanley Lebelo, a NUM negotiator, said by phone.

The group included general labourers and senior artisans and accounted for about half the workforce at the 3,450-megawatt plant in Mpumalanga province, east of Johannesburg, he said.

While Eskom employees are barred from striking as the utility is considered an essential service, they “can not take it anymore,” he said.

The union and Eskom are discussing the dispute at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration.

The power provider gained a court order yesterday barring employees from going on strike, the NUM said in an earlier statement.

Andrew Etzinger, a spokesman for Eskom, didn’t answer a call seeking comment.

The company’s press office didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail seeking a response.

While the union is sticking to a demand for a 12 percent wage increase, it is “willing to move” if there is an incentive to do so, said Lebelo, who was present at pay talks with Eskom.

The company has offered a 5.6 percent increase.

The NUM has more than 16,000 members at Eskom, which supplies almost all of South Africa’s electricity. - Bloomberg News

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