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Wednesday, August 10, 2022

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Eskom said the unlawful strike has a serious detrimental impact not only on Eskom, but also on the broader South African public and economy

According to Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan, a provisional wage agreement was reached between Eskom and labour unions . Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)

According to Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan, a provisional wage agreement was reached between Eskom and labour unions . Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)

Published Jun 30, 2022

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The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) cautioned against fake reports, saying that it can have a detrimental impact on the negotiations process.

According to reports, Eskom had increased its offer to 7% but the unions dismissed these claims.

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The unions are expected to meet with power utility Eskom’s management today (Friday) in the Central Bargaining Forum over wage talks.

Employees at the power utility downed tools on July 22 after wage talks with the employer collapsed.

On Wednesday, the union also made the same caution to Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan. He told the media that the utility and the unions had reached an agreement regarding the wage negotiations.

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Gordhan called the move by the employees to hold a strike actions as ‘unlawful’ and ‘illegal’. He later announced that employees would return to the plants and continue with their duties, however, that did not phase them.

Gordhan also called out employees who intimidated and prevented other employees from going to work to perform their duties as they are considered essential workers.

Then, Gordhan assured the country that workers would be back at work and Stage 6 would be averted, however, that did not happen.

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Instead, Eskom continued implementing Stage 6.

As the strike gained momentum, it saw the country plunging into Stage 6 load shedding, a level that was only experienced once in 2019.

On Thursday there were some media reports which claimed that workers at Eskom had rejected the wage proposal.

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“Numsa and NUM will be engaging Eskom in the Central Bargaining Forum on Friday regarding the proposal which Eskom has tabled. Any reports or claims in the media suggesting that we have either accepted or rejected an offer at Eskom are false. We call on media houses to be responsible in their reporting. When they publish fake news it can have a very detrimental impact on the negotiations process,” said NUM national spokesperson, Livhuwani Mammburu.

Again on Thursday, Eskom announced that it was going to implement Stage 6 load shedding from 2pm until midnight due to the continued unprotected strike.

Eskom said Stage 6 load shedding will again be implemented from 5am until midnight today (Friday).

Eskom spokesperson Sikonathi Mantshantsha said the high levels of staff absenteeism and intimidation of working employees at some of the power stations was still rife.

He said this had made it difficult to conduct routine maintenance and other operational requirements which will further impact the reliability of generation units.

“Due to the unlawful and unprotected strike which has caused widespread disruption to Eskom’s power plants, Eskom is still unable to return some generators to service. Eskom is compelled to take this unprecedented step to conserve emergency generation capacity to safeguard the power system. There remains a risk that the stage of load shedding may have to change at any time, depending on the state of the plant,” Mantshantsha said.

He further said Eskom thanked all workers who reported for duty and who continue to perform diligently under extremely challenging conditions.

“Eskom requests all union members to abide by the call from union leadership to return to work immediately. The unlawful strike has a serious detrimental impact not only on Eskom, but also on the broader South African public and economy. Union members, who work in a designated essential service, have a legal and moral obligation to return to work in order to safeguard South Africa from further load shedding. We currently have 3 161MW of planned maintenance, while another 17 467MW of capacity is unavailable due to breakdowns,” Mantshantsha said.

Small and large businesses relying on the grid are at their lowest, with some businessmen and women fearing the worst if this continues.

L7 Group’s director, Lesedi Mapheto said the impact of load shedding means the loss of production, eminent loss of clients, as the group deals with print management solutions.

“The impact we face whenever there is load shedding is the loss of production which in turn affects the client’s deadline, meaning we are unable to meet deadlines. Failure to deliver on time has immeasurable reputational damage to the business that took years to build,” said Mapheto.

Another small business owner Busi Danster, who owns a fast food restaurant called Lets-Eat B in Thokoza, Ekurhuleni, said the power cuts are negatively impacting her business which she started from scratch with no funding.

“Due to load shedding, I have lost business because we hardly sell anything. I had to lay off one of my employees because I can hardly afford to buy stock, the situation is bad. First it was cooking oil, petrol, now it is this. We try so hard as young black South Africans to put food on the table but we are failing because of poor South African systems,” Danster said.

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