Eskom has triggered a dispute process with labour unions over pay, citing the increased wage demands as unaffordable given the current financial state of the facility.
The embattled power utility told Reuters that it will now rely on a mediator to try to forge an agreement and avert potential disruption to power supplies
“Eskom, which relies on taxpayer cash bailouts to maintain its going concern status, has clearly demonstrated these demands are unaffordable,” Eskom spokesman Sikonathi Mantshantsha told Reuters.
Eskom said it made a final offer of a 1.5% increase in basic salaries, which unions rejected- below current inflation levels of 4.4%. The dispute is now expected to go to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).
A previous wage dispute in 2018 led to electricity supply interruptions and Eskom, which produces the vast majority of the power in Africa’s most industrialised nation, has warned the same could happen again.
On Wednesday, Eskom said it will cut power supplies nationwide until Friday after more breakdowns at some of its facilities.
The state-owned company said it would extend cuts of 2,000 megawatts from the grid because of shortages caused by two plant failures.
Eskom, which has faced delays in restarting two other generating units that were being serviced, said it’s been forced to ration power further after exhausting emergency reserves.
“The emergency generation reserves have been used extensively in the past days to avoid load shedding during the day,” Eskom said. “This has resulted in these being depleted, reducing available capacity.”
With further reporting from Reuters.