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Eskom can’t guarantee power amid wage protests

Eskom is implementing contingency plans and will apply for court orders to shut protests down if necessary.

South Africa’s state-owned utility said security of power supply could be threatened as workers protest Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd’s insistence that it can’t offer pay increases.

While all power plants are running, nine have been affected by the labor action and some aren’t receiving coal, Eskom told reporters on Wednesday at the utility’s headquarters in Johannesburg.

The utility “can’t guarantee” that security of supply isn’t under threat, said Thava Govender, Eskom group executive for generation. “Some of the stations are battling and they’re running at lower load.”

The supplier of most of South Africa’s electricity is determined to “keep the lights on,” said Chief Executive Officer Phakamani Hadebe, adding that Eskom is implementing contingency plans and will get court orders to stop the protests if needed. Wage talks between cash-strapped Eskom and unions broke down last week. While the labor organizations have said they’re planning a protest march on Thursday, legally workers are not permitted to strike because the power producer is considered to provide an essential service.

Police surrounded five of Eskom’s stations earlier Wednesday when protesters tried to block other employees from arriving for night shifts.

“We are waiting for information from our regions regarding events as they unfold in Mpumalanga,” Phakamile Hlubi, a spokeswoman for the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa, said in a text message response, referring to the province where Eskom’s key coal plants are located. “The official day of action is the march, which is happening at Megawatt Park tomorrow,” she said, referring to Eskom’s head office.

The utility is taking measures to improve its finances as demand has weakened since rolling blackouts in 2015 curbed South Africa’s economic growth. In addition to scrutinising its business model, Eskom is also reining in costs.

© 2018 Bloomberg L.P

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It is very clear that Eskom is a huge risk could drag this whole country down in a very short time. We need (as a matter of urgency) to deregulate power supply, split Eskom into a power distribution (grid) company and a power supply company and make sure that we have alternatives in place.

How can such a huge risk be so crystal clear for so long already, and absolutely nothing is done to address this?

Pravin in a no win situation. Don’t pay and the power will get cut (with cost to the economy > than increase for a few workers) , pay and he sends a signal that workers can get a cpi + 7% increase as long as the threat or violence is big enough.. while the economy is in recession (despite the Ramaposa smoke and mirrors media campaign that its all blue sky ahead for us). This is not going to end well

Yip. Expensive to employ your electorate. But it is the Africa way.

“No guarantee for power” you say?

But sir, the SUN comes up on a daily basis…use it!

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