Eskom warns of stage 5 load shedding or higher due to strike action

A combination of unit breakdowns, lack of diesel reserves and labour action means Eskom has no option but to move to stage 4 load shedding over the weekend, says chief operating officer Jan Oberholzer.

In a media briefing on Friday afternoon (24 June), Oberholzer said the ongoing industrial action was a particular concern, as it could lead to further power cuts if the unlawful activity continues to occur and spread.

Oberholzer said several of the company’s power stations – including Matla, Duvha and Medupi – are currently grappling with an illegal strike which had forced full activity at the plants to effectively stop.

He added that several power stations do not have the necessary human resources to run safely or efficiently, while other several workers have been intimidated and threatened from working. Eskom has subsequently taken preventative measures to lower generation output so that no damage occurs at its plants.

Should these criminal acts continue to persist, and continue to spread, the risk of load shedding could be moved past stage 4 to higher stages, he said.

Eskom said that as many 100 workers had blocked roads to its facilities illegally at various power stations on Friday, which effectively stopped more than 200 hundred workers from entering its plants. Several workers had also been intimidated into staying at home.

The power utility said that no trade union has commented on the strike, highlighting its unprotected and unlawful nature, with an interdict granted to stop any further action. As the strike is illegal, Eskom has threatened to take disciplinary action against employees acting unlawfully.

Stage 4 

Eskom announced load shedding will be moved to stage 4 from 11h00 on Friday (24 June) until 00h00. On Saturday and Sunday, stage 4 load shedding will be implemented from 05h00 until 00h00.

“It is necessary to bolster emergency generation reserves to react to unforeseen circumstances, as well as to replenish emergency reserves to prepare for the week ahead. This would help fill the generation deficit while dealing with generating units that may trip amidst the disturbances and compensate for the inability to return generating units timeously to service,” the power utility said.

“While exploring possible solutions to unlock the deadlock with the unions, Eskom appeals to its labour partners and striking employees to embrace the higher purpose of putting the people of South Africa first, respect the law and to desist from illegal and undemocratic conduct.”

Read: Eskom moves to stage 4 load shedding – here is the new schedule

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Eskom warns of stage 5 load shedding or higher due to strike action