Unions dispute Gordhan’s claim of wage agreement at Eskom, as stage 6 blackouts continue

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Minister Pravin Gordhan called the “illegal industrial action” a major contributing factor to stage 6 load shedding. Photo: Getty Images
Minister Pravin Gordhan called the “illegal industrial action” a major contributing factor to stage 6 load shedding. Photo: Getty Images


South Africa has moved to stage 6 of rolling blackouts.

On Tuesday, Eskom warned that load shedding could move from stage 4 to stage 6 rapidly as a result of an abrupt overnight deterioration in the power generation system.

In an urgent briefing on Tuesday morning, Eskom chief executive Andre de Ruyter said the system was constrained due to coal and labour issues.

“We have associated losses due to the unavailability of coal and labour, which leads us to an additional 3 661MW that is not available. This situation creates substantial risk [to the grid].”

De Ruyter said they already had significant deterioration in the system, and further experienced a loss of 10 generation units. Only one of the units has returned to operation, which has put the power utility under pressure to implement stage 6 power cuts.

“There is a possibility that we might avert stage 6. The risk is there and therefore we are communicating proactively with the South African public in order for the necessary preparations to be made.”

Stage 6 load shedding commenced at 4pm on Tuesday and is expected to last until 10pm, while stage 4 will continue to be implemented until midnight.

 The utility said:

There is a high probability of stage 6 being implemented again on Wednesday.


Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan also held a media briefing late on Tuesday afternoon, during which he called the “illegal industrial action” a major contributing factor to stage 6 load shedding.

He said a wage settlement was reached and requested unions to ensure that their members return to work on Wednesday.

However, Numsa and the National Union of Mineworkers said there was no agreement and demanded that Gordhan withdraw his statement immediately.

READ: Two months without salaries for Free State municipal workers

In a statement on Tuesday afternoon, the unions said “an offer was tabled which members are engaging on”.

Eskom workers went on an unprotected strike last Tuesday to demand better wages.

Eskom reached a deadlock in talks with unions on June 22 after Numsa claimed that the power utility refused to account for corrupt diesel, coal and independent power producer contracts.

The unions said:

We will meet on Friday at the central bargaining forum, where we will formally respond to [the offer].

They say that Gordhan is rushing to claim there being an agreement when members have not even looked at the proposal yet.

“We condemn him for his reckless behaviour ... His comments have the potential to collapse this entire negotiation process.”

Gordhan, in his briefing, questioned who stands to benefit from disrupting the country’s power supply and pleaded with those involved in the strike action to stop, adding that the security cluster would meet to discuss the situation at Eskom.

He said the country was nowhere near total blackout.


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