Some South African power stations are operating below full strength as workers protest state-owned Eskom’s insistence that it won’t offer pay increases.
All the facilities are still running though, and the company, which supplies most of South Africa’s electricity, is determined to “keep the lights on,” Chief Executive Officer Phakamani Hadebe told reporters in Johannesburg.
The company is implementing contingency plans and will get court orders to stop the protests if needed, he said.
Police surrounded five of Eskom’s stations earlier when protesters tried to block other employees from arriving for night shifts and the company said Wednesday morning that protests were continuing at four of the facilities.
Wage talks between Eskom and unions broke down last week, with labor organisations saying they’re planning a protest march on Thursday. Because the power producer is considered to provide an essential service, legally workers are not permitted to strike.
The utility is taking measures to improve its finances as demand has lagged since rolling blackouts in 2015 curbed the country’s economic growth. In addition to scrutinising its business model, it’s reining in costs.
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