New load-shedding threat as Eskom pay talks hit impasse

Date:Jul 31, 2018

An impasse in wage talks has for the second time in 2018 threatened the national power supply amid reports of intimidation, sabotage and obstruction of access at power stations.

Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe warned South Africans on Monday afternoon to plan for load-shedding. Coal trucking at Duvha and Majuba power stations had halted because of “acts of intimidation”, he said.

A unit was offline at both Arnot and Koeberg, while Matla power station was worst hit with two units offline and a conveyor belt cut in what Eskom management believed to be an act of sabotage. The police had been mobilised, Eskom said.

Eskom employees embarked on industrial action at power stations on Monday in response to the utility’s refusal to include performance bonuses in a three-year wage offer.

National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) spokesman Livhuwani Mammburu said union members on the ground reported protests had been peaceful. “It’s their [Eskom’s] same lies and propaganda every time. They want sympathy from the public by tarnishing the image of our members.”
A strike in June over a first wage increase offer of 0% also culminated in alleged sabotage and load-shedding. The offers have since been improved. Two options are on the table. The first is a 7% annual increase for three years and includes a housing allowance dependent on inflation. The other option is a 7.5% increase in 2018 and 7% in 2019 and 2020, with no housing allowance. The workers are yet to respond to these offers.

Solidarity deputy general secretary Deon Reyneke said the union had received reports of disruptions at Kendal, Duvha, Arnot, Matla and Lethabo power stations. “They [protestors] prevented people from going in.

“At Arnot, employees who were inside, they forced them out,” he said.

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