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Johannesburg - Widespread power failures on the West Rand and in northern Johannesburg could take up to three days to resolve due to an unprotected strike, City Power said on Thursday.
“We are currently experiencing power outages as a result of the strike, we have not been able to timeously attend to calls, resulting in a service backlog in these areas,” it said in a statement.
A few hundred City Power staff downed tools on Wednesday afternoon because they were unhappy about a new shift system the power distributor was implementing.
City Power said that the strike was not union-led. Unions had signed an agreement on the new shifts in May.
“We are doing our best to restore power in the affected areas, with the assistance of contractors. Nevertheless, we expect that full restoration is likely to take two to three days.”
The Democratic Alliance on Thursday said the power cuts were effecting suburbs including Kibler Park, Wynberg, Randburg from Boskruin through Cresta, Homestead Park and parts of Roodepoort.
Former president Nelson Mandela's home, where a medical facility has been set up for his recuperation since his discharge from hospital on the weekend, was also hit by the electricity interruption.
City Power installed a back-up generator a block from Mandela's house on Wednesday night, and another generator could be heard from outside the high walls around his home.
DA spokesman on infrastructure services in Johannesburg Denis Hunt said in a statement that City Power's new shift system would result in a decrease in workers' take-home pay.
“The members of the DA sitting in the Section 79 oversight committee have for months drawn attention to the perilously low level of staffing at City Power, in many areas being below the full complement by 50 percent and more.
“... In a market where competing for skills has become the norm and finding qualified people willing to work in these conditions is difficult, to introduce a working structure which reduces what the workers have come to expect is suicidal.”
Hunt said that the power problems could lead to economic losses in the city.
City Power could not immediately comment on the DA's claims about the effect the shift system could have on take-home salaries and the allegation that it was under-staffed. - Sapa