Eskom says it commenced with Stage 1 load shedding at 11:29am on Friday (15 June 2018).
We anticipate that this will continue until 21h00 tonight. This is due to the impact of the current illegal protest action by some Eskom employees at various sites over wage increases,” it said in a statement.
Eskom warned consumers on Thursday that its power network was constrained due to acts of sabotage and intimidation that are part of the industrial action being taken by members of trade unions.
Eskom, which generates almost all of the nation’s electricity, is locked in a dispute with workers after wage talks broke down last week over the state-owned utility’s insistence that it can’t afford pay increases. Supply was affected Thursday as demonstrators blockaded roads, attacked staff and damaged infrastructure, the company said.
“Eskom is working with all the relevant stakeholders to keep its plant operating optimally however there is a high risk of load shedding over the weekend. Eskom calls on all consumers to assist by reducing their electricity consumption by switching off geysers, electric heating, pool pumps, and all non-essential appliances throughout the day, it said.
Stage 1 allows for up to 1000 MW of the national load to be shed.
The company said that it is load shedding according to the published load shedding schedules.
Members of Eskom’s biggest unions plan to picket during their break midday on Friday, when the activity is allowed, Livhuwani Mammburu, a spokesman for the National Union of Mineworkers, told Bloomberg by phone. Legally workers are not permitted to strike because the power producer is considered to provide an essential service.
“So far we have relative calm at our power stations, unlike yesterday where people were being blocked,” from reporting for duty, Khulu Phasiwe, Eskom spokesman, said by phone from Johannesburg on Friday. “Today we do have some people who are back at their posts.”
The unions are waiting to hear from the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration about the next steps after the dispute was referred to mediation, Mammburu said.
“We are not on strike,” Phakamile Hlubi, a spokeswoman for the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa, said late Thursday.
The unions delivered a memorandum to Eskom headquarters earlier in the day demanding a 15% salary increase.