He said there were a few isolated incidents where some protesting workers had tried to blockade the entrances of power stations. “But these situations have been quelled by the presence of the Public Order Police. The situation remains tense but stable.”
About 150 workers from the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) protested outside Eskom’s Mkondeni site in Pietermaritzburg on Tuesda and on Wednesday, hundreds more gathered outside the utility's New Germany.
Union-aligned workers across the country have vowed to continue with the protests, which are related to wage negotiations that went sour.
Charles Nongqayi, branch secretary of NUM at Mkondeni, said workers were “very disappointed” with Eskom’s 0%wage increase offer.
“It means they do not intend bargaining. The company says they have no money for increases, but the company is the way it is because of mismanagement. Workers cannot be held accountable for that.
“With the VAT and the petrol increases, the workers cannot survive a day-to-day living on what they give us now.”
“We have embarked on this shutdown and we will remain on shutdown until we get our 15%increase. We will not go back inside until the employer goes back to the bargaining table,” said Nongqayi.
On Tuesday, NUM and Numsa rejected Eskom’s wage offer. The unions said Eskom was in “serious financial trouble” with “huge debt” and it had “wasted billions” through alleged mismanagement. The unions said it was unfair for workers “to be punished” for the decisions made by the government, as a shareholder, Eskom’s board and Eskom’s management, which they felt had resulted in the situation Eskom found itself in.
Phasiwe did not address questions about Eskom returning to the bargaining table.
He said they appreciated and thanked employees who continued to work hard “to keep the lights on”.
“The safety of all our employees is of paramount importance to us during this time.
“Eskom will continue to provide regular updates about the state of the power system through various media platforms,” said Phasiwe.