JOHANNESBURG - Not all of South African power utility Eskom’s power plants are operating at full strength because of protests relating to a wage dispute, Chief Executive Phakamani Hadebe said on Wednesday.
Members of the National Union of Mineworkers and National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa protested at several Eskom power plants on Wednesday. Those unions want Eskom to award salary increases of around 15 percent, but the utility has said it will not increase wages at all this year as it seeks to cut staff costs.
This comes after the state-owned company said earlier on Wednesday its power stations continued to operate optimally in line with contingency measures put in place to mitigate the impact of a wage strike.
Workers are protesting the company's decision not to hike wages this year. They have demanded a 15 percent increase across the board.
Two labour unions, angered by Eskom’s failure to raise salaries as it embarks on a cost-cutting drive, have warned that thousands of their members will march to Eskom’s headquarters on Thursday to keep up the pressure in the wage talks.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has made stabilising state-owned firms such as Eskom a priority since he replaced scandal-plagued Jacob Zuma in February, in an acknowledgment of the threat they pose to the country’s strained public finances.
Eskom, which produces more than 90 percent of South Africa’s power, has so far refused to cede to demands by the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) to raise salaries by 15 percent.
A third union, Solidarity, is also unhappy with Eskom’s decision to keep salaries flat but did not protest on Wednesday.
- REUTERS / ANA