Gordhan bridges divide between Eskom, unions

Public Enterprise Minister Pravin Gordhan. (Photo: Gallo Images / Netwerk24 / Deaan Vivier)
Public Enterprise Minister Pravin Gordhan. (Photo: Gallo Images / Netwerk24 / Deaan Vivier)

Wage negotiations for Eskom workers are to resume and parties have agreed to work together to ensure the security of electricity supply.

This is according to a statement issue by the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) on Friday evening, following a meeting between Public Enterprise Minister Pravin Gordhan, the Eskom board and trade unions - National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) and Solidarity.

The parties discussed Eskom salary negotiations and the interruption of electricity supply.

“The parties agreed that the current disruptions at Eskom that resulted in load shedding since yesterday are not beneficial to either party nor to the country and the economy,” the statement read.

They agreed to resume negotiations with immediate effect and that Eskom’s 0% offer is off the table. Eskom workers are demanding a 15% wage increase.

Further, operations are to normalise immediately and production will be restored to ensure the security of electricity supply.

The parties also agreed to “engage on other key issues” impacting the future sustainability of Eskom. These being the cost of coal and the impact of policy such as the Independent Power Producers programme.

They will begin a process to “build a trustworthy relationship” following wage negotiations, the DPE said.

Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe on Friday evening tweeted that stage 1 load shedding had been lifted at 19:16.

The power utility had implemented load shedding as a number of power generating units had been broken down. Phasiwe said that the cause was being investigated.

Eskom spokesperson Dikatso Mothae had told Fin24 earlier on Friday that some power station workers were being intimidated to prevent them from going to work. 

"Such challenges might lead to unstable supply," she said. "There is also a risk [due to] people who are deliberately tampering with machines as part of sabotaging operations," she said.

Numsa in turn, sent out a statement on Friday afternoon rejecting Eskom's claims that members were sabotaging power supply. "Eskom has no evidence to back up allegations that our members are responsible for sabotaging power supply," the statement read. 

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