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Stage 5 load shedding still on the cards despite Eskom, unions reaching R1bn wage settlement

State-owned eletricity company Eskom workers protest at the Megawatt Park in Sunninghill, workers are protesting against the company’s decision not to increase wages this year. Johannesburg. Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA)

State-owned eletricity company Eskom workers protest at the Megawatt Park in Sunninghill, workers are protesting against the company’s decision not to increase wages this year. Johannesburg. Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jul 5, 2022

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Pretoria - Despite Eskom and trade unions in the energy sector reaching agreement on a 7% wage increase, the power utility says Stage 5 load shedding will persist as their systems would take some time to recover following the strike.

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

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Last week, the embattled utility implemented severe Stage 6 load shedding last week – the worst the country has seen in more than two years as workers at the power utility downed tools demanding better wages.

The power utility urged all employees to return to their work stations immediately, saying this was important in order “to relieve the pressure on the system and to deliver the service the people of South Africa expect from Eskom, and to assist in restoring generation performance negatively impacted by the unlawful strike”.

The workers were on a wildcat strike for two weeks, demanding up to 12% wage increases, while Eskom was offering a 7% increase.

On Tuesday, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) and National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) members at Eskom finally signed a 7% agreement across the board and a R400 hike in the housing allowance.

Eskom said the overall effect of this agreement on the wage bill would be more than R1 billion over the period of the agreement.

“This of course will be a struggle for Eskom to afford,” it said.

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