Eskom strike over labour issues

Employees at Eskom Rotek Industries are set to strike on Tuesday (29 September) over a grievance with labour brokers and a wage dispute.

Rotek Industries acts as a maintenance support company for Eskom, with a number of the protesting workers employed as contractors on a part-time basis.

“Eskom is aware of the protest action by workers employed by temporary employment service (TES) providers around power stations in Mpumalanga,” said the company’s spokesperson, Sikonathi Mantshantsha.

“The workers have raised a series of complaints against TES, including demands to be directly employed by Eskom on a full time basis. The matters being raised by the protesting workers are already being dealt with in the CCMA process. Eskom is committed to a speedy and sustainable resolution of the issues raised.

“We have taken measures to minimize any disruptions to the production of electricity, and as such, Eskom does not expect there to be major problems with the production and supply of electricity.”

The strike is the latest in a long list of issues facing the embattled power utility which has implemented historical levels of load shedding in 2020.

Eskom has managed to mitigate some of its power woes through the implementation of ‘load reduction’ in areas where overloading occurs.

The group has stated that overloading, due to illegal connections, ‘can damage electricity infrastructure by causing explosions of transformers and mini substations’.

“Currently Eskom is battling to keep up with the increased equipment failure caused by overloading that is costing millions to repair,” it said.

A step forward? 

The government has now gazetted ministerial determinations that will enable the development of more than 11,800 megawatts (MW) of additional power generation.

This signals government’s clear intention to move ahead with one of the key reforms needed to unlock the growth of the economy and attract much-needed investment, said president Cyril Ramaphosa.

“This new energy will be procured from diverse sources, including solar, wind, gas, coal and storage. While meeting our energy needs well into the future, this new capacity will also help us meet our international obligations to reduce carbon emissions.

“This electricity will be procured through a transparent tendering process that prioritises competitiveness and cost-effectiveness,” Ramaphosa said.

Most importantly at a time when energy supply is severely constrained, new generation projects that can be connected to the grid as soon as possible will be prioritised, he said.

“The next step, which will be following soon, is to initiate various procurement bidding windows including opening Bid Window 5 of the renewable energy independent power producer programme.

“This is in addition to the 2,000 MW of emergency power that is being urgently sought through the Risk Mitigation Procurement Programme to meet the country’s current energy shortfall.”

Read: South Africa has just taken a big step to end load shedding: Ramaphosa

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Eskom strike over labour issues