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Load shedding: are those working from home coping with the blackouts?

With stage 6 load shedding, are remote workers coping? Picture: Bongiwe Mchunu

With stage 6 load shedding, are remote workers coping? Picture: Bongiwe Mchunu

Published Jun 29, 2022

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Durban - The country is currently experiencing stage 6 load shedding, with four and a half hours of no electricity multiple times a day. This means South Africans are without power for six to 12 hours daily.

With certain professionals still being able to work from home, how do they cope with load shedding? Most large companies have back-up generators in case the electricity goes out and stable internet connection throughout the set times of load shedding.

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But how do those working from home manage without the security of an office? Are they able to still get work done and meet deadlines despite the numerous hours of disturbance?

Sizwe Mngqithi, a data entry clerk from Durban, said working under these conditions is nearly impossible. “I work for an international company so I do not have the option to go to an office for power. It has been very difficult. I have had to work odd hours in order to finish the tasks I do on a normal day,” he said.

Mngqithi added that his sleeping cycle has been disturbed in his effort to compensate for the hours lost to load shedding, and that this has taken a toll on his body as he wakes up tired and not feeling rested nearly everyday.

The General Industries Workers Union of SA said it strongly opposed the deepening levels of “energy poverty” and that this was a form of “terrorising” the working class.

“Black working-class communities are cut off for hours, forced to use expensive and dangerous alternatives like paraffin and gas, or are forced to chop down scarce trees for firewood,” the union said.

“This occurs in households that are already struggling to meet their daily needs, where savings are a luxury and every source of income is essential.”

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For Kopano Sebese, an online English teacher from Johannesburg, coping with load shedding is a matter of the smarts. She says all it takes is charging her device prior to load shedding and having a power bank for back-up.

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“You have to create ways to be able to continue with work despite it. It is costly to invest in charging gear, lights and other equipment just to be able to work. But, unfortunately it has become a necessity in South Africa,” she said.

Eskom blames the strike by its employees as the cause of load shedding. “While some workers have started reporting for duty at the power stations, there is still a high level of absenteeism.

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“As a result of the unlawful strike, routine maintenance work has had to be postponed. This backlog will take days to weeks to clear. It is therefore important to note that the system will remain constrained and vulnerable to additional breakdowns while recovery activities are in progress,” said the electricity utility.

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