THE National Union of Mineworkers has warned of a national blackout that might throw final preparations for the World Cup next month into disarray.
The trade union said yesterday that it had served a strike notice on Eskom, notifying the national electricity utility of a strike scheduled for next Wednesday. The union plans to march to the parastatal's head offices at Megawatt Park in Midrand on Thursday.
NUM spokesperson Lesiba Seshoka said the impending strike, which will involve the union's 26000 members, was a result of disputed issues outstanding from last year's negotiations.
He said these included housing allowances, permanent employment of health and safety officers and minimum level service agreement, which categorises sectors that may be classified as essential services.
"The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration awarded us a certificate on non-resolution around June last year.
"We were part of a 10-person task team set up to try resolve these issues, but Eskom still refuses to attend to them. It is only when we notified them of a strike that they said they want to talk to us," Seshoka said.
He said workers wanted a minimum of R5000 housing allowance, permanent employment of a health and safety officers at their 50 plants throughout the country and a clear classification of which sector of the company could be considered as providing essential services.
"We want clarity on the minimum service agreement because they cannot tell us that a clerk provides an essential service.
"We want Eskom to appoint permanent health and safety officers. They must stop sourcing services from private companies. We need people who will be there all the time," Seshoka said.
He said the strike would cause a blackout because there would be nobody to respond to maintenance queries. He said the strike would affect the supply of electricity during the tournament, which runs from June 11 to July 11.
Several attempts were made to get comment from Eskom, but they had not responded at the time of going to press.