Eskom as­sures the public ‘the lights will stay on’

Daily News - - NEWS - LA­TOYA NEW­MAN

FEARS that on­go­ing protest ac­tion against Eskom could lead to dis­rup­tions in the power sup­ply have been averted with the as­sur­ance that their power sta­tions would con­tinue to op­er­ate op­ti­mally.

Yes­ter­day, Eskom spokesper­son Khulu Phasiwe said: “Eskom’s power sta­tions and other crit­i­cal fa­cil­i­ties con­tinue to op­er­ate in line with con­tin­gency mea­sures the com­pany has put in place to en­sure sec- urity of power sup­ply dur­ing this pe­riod of wild­cat strikes.”

He said there were a few iso­lated in­ci­dents where some protest­ing work­ers had tried to block­ade the en­trances of power sta­tions. “But these sit­u­a­tions have been quelled by the pres­ence of the Public Or­der Po­lice. The sit­u­a­tion re­mains tense but sta­ble.”

About 150 work­ers from the Na­tional Union of Minework­ers (NUM) and Na­tional Union of Me­tal­work­ers of South Africa (Numsa) protested out­side Eskom’s Mkon­deni site in Pi­eter­mar­itzburg yes­ter­day.

Union- aligned work­ers across the coun­try have vowed to con­tinue with the protests, which are re­lated to wage ne­go­ti­a­tions that went sour.

Charles Nongqayi, branch sec­re­tary of NUM at Mkon­deni, said work­ers were “very dis­ap­pointed” with Eskom’s 0%wage in­crease of­fer.

“It means they do not in­tend bar­gain­ing. The com­pany says they have no money for in­creases, but the com­pany is the way it is be­cause of mis­man­age­ment. Work­ers can­not be held ac­count­able for that.

“With the VAT and the petrol in­creases, the work­ers can­not sur­vive a day-to-day liv­ing on what they give us now.”

“We have em­barked on this shut­down and we will re­main on shut­down un­til we get our 15%in­crease. We will not go back in­side un­til the em­ployer goes back to the bar­gain­ing ta­ble,” said Nongqayi.

On Tues­day, NUM and Numsa re­jected Eskom’s wage of­fer. The unions said Eskom was in “se­ri­ous fi­nan­cial trou­ble” with “huge debt” and it had “wasted bil­lions” through al­leged mis­man­age­ment. The unions said it was un­fair for work­ers “to be pun­ished” for the de­ci­sions made by the govern­ment, as a share­holder, Eskom’s board and Eskom’s man­age­ment, which they felt had re­sulted in the sit­u­a­tion Eskom found it­self in.

Phasiwe did not ad­dress ques­tions about Eskom re­turn­ing to the bar­gain­ing ta­ble.

He said they ap­pre­ci­ated and thanked em­ploy­ees who con­tin­ued to work hard “to keep the lights on”.

“The safety of all our em­ploy­ees is of paramount im­por­tance to us dur­ing this time.

“Eskom will con­tinue to pro­vide reg­u­lar up­dates about the state of the power sys­tem through var­i­ous me­dia plat­forms,” said Phasiwe.

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