Stage Four rolling blackouts to continue on Friday until 10PM

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Eskom has announced that due to lower than anticipated demand, rolling blackouts will continue to be implemented at Stage Four until 22:00 tonight, (previously Stage Six).

Rolling blackouts will then be lowered to Stage Two until 07:00 on Saturday morning.

Stage Four rolling blackouts will then be implemented at 07:00 – 22:00 on both Saturday and Sunday. During 22:00 – 07:00 on both Saturday and Sunday load-shedding will be at Stage Two.

The power utility cautions that this small reprieve is due to lower than anticipated demand during the weekend and continues to evaluate the situation and closely monitor the system. They will communicate and implement any changes as may be necessary.

Employees returning to work

Meanwhile, Eskom CEO Andre De Ruyter, has emphasized the importance of the power utility’s employees returning to work in an effort to lift the current stages of rolling blackouts.

Eskom has been implementing rolling blackouts due to further losses in generation capacity amid the ongoing impact of labour unrest and maintenance backlogs.

Speaking during a media briefing, De Ruyter says wage negotiations are under way.

“The most important outlook at this point in time is the successful return to work of the two unions with whom we are currently engaged in negotiations on a revised wage offer. The talks started at 9AM and they are progressing. The key issue is the return to work to allow us to lift load shedding. There are about three stages of load shedding attributable to the unlawful industrial action. So that is the major factor putting us in the position that we are in right now.”

Eskom management updates on current system challenges:

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 12% wage hike.

Eskom is offering a 7% 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 Nomsa Mdhuli and Pearl Magubane