Police surrounded five power plants around the country after protesters tried to block employees from arriving for night shifts after Eskom refused to increase pay.
Public-order police arrived at the Matla facility about 120km east of Johannesburg last night to “restore some semblance of normality and so operations could continue,” Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. spokesman Khulu Phasiwe said by phone, adding that this took place at four of the utility’s other facilities. “The situation is under control at the moment.”
Wage talks between Eskom and unions broke down last week, with labour organisations saying they’re planning a protest march on Thursday after the cash-strapped utility insisted it can’t offer any pay increases. Because the power producer is considered to provide an essential service, workers are legally 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.
The disturbances were caused by groups of about 15-20 people,” Phasiwe said. “Today, the situation might be different if people go to these power stations in bus loads. From our side we are sticking to what we have committed to doing, which is keeping the lights on.”
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