Eskom power lines. Picture: Henk Kruger/ African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Johannesburg – Load shedding will be reduced due to many workers returning to work, despite pending wage and bonus negotiations. But Eskom predicts that the power system will remain constrained, especially at night during peak hours.

The utility said this could change as workers gradually returned to work. Eskom national spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe said wage negotiations should be finalised by Wednesday. The utility said a significant number of workers were expected back today, which created a lower probability of rotational load shedding.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) will be protesting until Wednesday.

“We are beginning to see some improvement at our power stations. We are grateful for the numbers we are beginning to see at our power stations,” said Phasiwe.

Solidarity trade union, which supported the two unions’ action but did not down tools, has accepted Eskom’s offer of a 7.5% wage increase for this year, with a 7% increase next year and the year after, with a guaranteed increase equal to the CPI on housing and a once-off cash payment of R5000 after taxes.

“Solidarity did what their members agreed to, so we accepted,” said Solidarity chief executive Dirk Hermann, adding that, given the circumstances, it was a fair offer.

“For all our members across South Africa, the right thing to do now would be to help prevent the economy from being harmed.”

Hermann said the union would work tirelessly to stabilise the power grid.

“It was hard to expect employees to accept that no bonuses will be paid when individuals at Eskom have enriched themselves unlawfully without there being any consequences for their actions.”

NUM’s chief negotiator at Eskom, Helen Diatile, told The Star that Solidarity had been “sponging off” the other unions and would benefit regardless.

“While they continued working, our members are losing money by not being at work. For Solidarity, there is no pain – for us there is a huge loss. Their members are not getting confronted or disciplined as ours are,” she said.

NUM and Numsa will be meeting with their members prior to Wednesday’s meeting to decide whether to accept the offer.

The Star

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