Eskom wage deal: entrepreneurs not optimistic load shedding will abate any time soon

File Picture Picture: Jeffrey Abrahams

File Picture Picture: Jeffrey Abrahams

Published Jul 6, 2022


Johannesburg - South African power utility Eskom finally signed a wage deal with the three recognised labour unions on Tuesday 06 July.

The deal means Eskom employees will be returning to work which could see the grip of load shedding loosening on the country and, in particular, on business.

Eskom group executive for human resources Elsie Pule was quick to lower expectations of a quick and immediate resolution as the strike had brought scheduled and regular maintenance to a halt.

She said: “It is important to note that while the workforce is returning to work, the system will still take some time to recover.”

“As a result of the strike, maintenance work has had to be postponed, and this backlog will take time to clear.”

Following this agreement, trade unions urged their members to return to work immediately.

Entrepreneurs who have battled through a global pandemic and are now faced with crippling inflation have bared the brunt of the powers cuts, which have been the worst in two years.

Sonya, who runs a salon in Soweto, is unable to provide basic services like a hair dryer or hot water to set braids because of the rolling blackouts, which has been to the detriment of her business, and by extension, her employees.

Speaking to Reuters, she said: “I used to have two employees, but I had let one go and keep the other.”

Property development entrepreneur Rapula Kobane was not too excited about Eskom’s announced wage deal with trade unions and said he would be adopting a “wait and see approach”.

“Well, it’s good news, but I'm not sure if we as entrepreneurs will feel the immediate effects of the employees returning to work. Too many man-hours have been lost over the past couple of days due to the intermittent power cuts.”

“Productivity is everything for my staff and me, so if we are not working, we aren’t making any money. So we’ll wait and see if the deal leads to improved power supply,” he said.

Cosam Muzamba, who manages a fast-food restaurant in Mondeor, south of Johannesburg, was also not overly thrilled at the news and expressed his disdain for the power utility.

“What's the point? The damage is already done. There will always be an excuse when it comes to Eskom. Sometimes the coal is wet. There is a broken down unit, or workers are on strike. The government is always calling on entrepreneurs to start businesses, but when we do, we are not even able to trade due to their incompetence,” he said.

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