Johannesburg – South African state-run power utility Eskom said on Wednesday labour tensions at its new power station projects should ease after unions and contractors signed a “partnership agreement.”
Power margins in Africa‘s top economy are razor thin and getting the Medupi and Kusile plants running is crucial to easing pressure on the grid. But construction of both has been delayed by labour unrest.
“Eskom, employers and labour at the Medupi and Kusile project sites have entered into a milestone partnership agreement which aims to stabilise labour relations on site and expedite delivery of the two new power stations,” Eskom said in a statement.
The utility said the agreement included a guaranteed minimum wage for all hourly paid contractor employees and standardised pay rates within industries.
Mirroring labour unrest in the country’s key mining sector, construction at Medupi was suspended for several weeks earlier this year because of a violent strike and protests. Kusile has also been hit by disruptions.
South Africa‘s economic hub of Gauteng province, home to the financial centre of Johannesburg and a quarter of the country’s population, was hit on Sunday with the first blast of cold weather in the southern hemisphere winter, pushing the reserve margin to as tight as 0.2 percent of available power.