Union, Eskom meet to plan farm-friendly power cuts

2008-01-22 00:00

REPRESENTATIVES from the KZN Agricultural Union (Kwanalu) and Eskom met in Pietermaritzburg yesterday to discuss ways to minimise the impact of load shedding on the agricultural sector.

Kwanalu, the union representing emerging and commercial farmers in the province, called the meeting a success.

The Kwanalu delegation included the union’s CEO and its president, while Eskom was represented by officials from the company’s local office.

The union said agriculture is one of the most affected sectors.

President Robin Barnsley could not quantify the loss suffered by farmers, saying the union is still gathering information from its members. “However, there have been individual farmers who have lost tens of thousands of rands.” If the status quo remains, the union fears it could lead to a loss of jobs. “That is precisely why we held the meeting — to mitigate against that [the loss of jobs],” he said.

Barnsley told The Witness that the union agreed to support Eskom in its communications initiatives around the issue. “Eskom has also agreed to redraft communication around the load shedding schedules.”

He said the union will be going back to its members to assess their needs as there are industries that perform critical activities at particular times, and cannot afford to be switched off at those times.

Some farming operations rely heavily on electricity for functions such as temperature control and refrigeration. These include poultry and dairy farming, and these farmers are among some of the worst affected.

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