Eskom, Unions back to the wage negotiations table amid rolling blackouts

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Unions representing Eskom workers and the power utility’s representatives are expected to return to the negotiation table on Friday.

Eskom workers, whose protest action has forced the country into stage six blackouts this week, are demanding a twelve percent wage hike.

Eskom is offering a seven percent salary increase.

Meanwhile, Eskom spokesperson Sikhonathi Mantshantsha says while some workers have started reporting for duty at the power stations, there is still a high level of absenteeism.

Trade unions NUMSA and NUM say they will be engaging Eskom in the central Bargaining Council Forum on the proposal that the power utility has tabled.

NUM spokesperson Livhuwani Mammburu updates on wage negotiations with Eskom: 

Last week, NUMSA accused Eskom of abandoning the wage negotiations. Unions say this angered workers who then embarked on an unprotected strike.

The country plunged into stage four rolling blackouts last week which was ramped up to stage 6 during afternoon peak time – since Tuesday.

Small businesses have taken a hammering and municipalities have also complained that the rolling blackouts are putting a strain on their resources.

Joburg City Power not coping with stage six blackouts

Meanwhile, Johannesburg’s City Power has warned residents that some areas will be without power for up to four hours instead of two hours under stage six blackouts.

City Power spokesperson Isaac Mangena says these are the undesirable effects of power cuts that everyone has to live with until Eskom’s capacity challenges are resolved.

“Load shedding stage six is really causing shocks and challenges for City Power and our customers. According to Eskom’s schedule, we have realised that during the higher stages of load shedding, especially stage six or eight should we get there, there will be customers in some blocks who will be shed for 4 hours instead of the 2 hours that we normally load shed people. It also means that customers should brace themselves to be load shed for three or four times daily.”

Additional reporting by Pearl Magubane