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Eskom workers calmly returning to work as Stage 6 power cuts continues

Eskom and Load shedding... An early morning picture taken at Matla Power Station in Mpumalanga Province. Picture: Dumisani Sibeko

Eskom and Load shedding... An early morning picture taken at Matla Power Station in Mpumalanga Province. Picture: Dumisani Sibeko

Published Jun 29, 2022


Johannesburg - Eskom has confirmed that a number of its striking workers have returned to their posts today while wage negotiations continue, a move that could restore the utility’s generation capacity.

“I can confirm that many employees are peacefully returning to work and that there are no incidents of protest reported so far today,” Eskom spokesperson Sikonathi Mantshantsha said.

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“The details of any wage offer will be made known on Friday when the wage negotiations resume.”

Thousands of Eskom workers have downed tools for more than a week at nine of its power stations and other operating facilities following a deadlock in wage negotiations on 22 June.

This wildcat strike, combined with unplanned breakdowns, plunged the country into Stage 6 loadshedding for the second time in the history of rotational power cuts.

The workers are demanding wage increases of up to 12 percent while Eskom is offering a below-inflation wage hike of 4.7 percent.

However, Eskom agreed in-principle with the recognised labour unions on the way forward in the wage talks after the power utility agreed to return to the negotiating table and presented a new offer.

The new wage offer will be tabled when talks resume on Friday at the Central Bargaining Forum following this productive meeting on Tuesday between Eskom and union leadership.

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The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) have since urged their members to return to work immediately.

Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan blamed the Stage 6 loadshedding on striking workers and intimidation of those who wanted to report for duty.

Gordhan said at a number of power stations up to 90 percent of staff could not attend to their duties due to intimidation in person, over the telephone and attacks on working staff members' property.

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“This intimidation is unacceptable. Everything will be done to ensure that we bring the supply of electricity back to normality sooner rather than later,” Gordhan said.

Meanwhile, Business Unity South Africa (Busa) has warned that the severe outages will negatively impact an already ailing economy.

“The implementation of stage 6 loadshedding is a serious blow to an economy that is already struggling with low growth and a lack of decisive action on the part of government, to make the necessary interventions to attract investment and put the country on a sustainable and inclusive growth path,” Busa said in a statement.

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