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90% of workers have not returned to work at three power stations: Eskom

FILE PHOTO: Electricity pylons
FILE PHOTO: Electricity pylons
Image: REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

The power utility confirmed that these include essential workers.

CEO Andre de Ruyter said some were staying away due to intimidation.

Eskom’s management gave an update on current system challenges on Friday. De Ruyter said they will take disciplinary action against workers who have not come to work.

“Return to work is important in lifting load-shedding‚” he said.

Wage talks are under way at the bargaining forum where the electricity utility and unions are locked in wage hike negotiations.

The power utility announced on Friday morning they had replenished their emergency reserves sufficiently overnight to not require stage 6 load-shedding during the morning and early afternoon‚ allowing for a reduction to stage 4. However‚ load-shedding stage 6 would be implemented from 4-10pm.

“Our reserves are running very low‚ this is something that we are addressing. We are sourcing an additional diesel supply. We have not replenished our dams as much as we would have liked to‚ and therefore we are unfortunately going to have to return to stage 6 load-shedding from 4pm‚ so that we can safely navigate throughout the period‚” he said.

The power utility reiterated that the eThekwini municipality was not being load-shed‚ after its flood damage.

De Ruyter said there was a total diesel spend of R1.54bn for June against the budget of R700m. The power utility has spent about R4.14bn on diesel since January. He said the utility overspent on diesel more than expected to try to avoid load-shedding and also due to the high price of the fuel.

He said he has had discussions with President Cyril Ramaphosa on the challenges but said he cannot discuss the contents of their discussions.

De Ruyter said illegal protest action by workers was responsible for about 2‚700MW of generation capacity being offline‚ which is roughly equal to three stages of load-shedding.

Eskom’s acting MD of generation capacity‚ Rhulani Mathebula‚ said though no sabotage has been observed‚ some employees had their personal property damaged.

“What we are aware of is that there is maintenance that is not happening at the plants — and that by itself results in defects that are not being addressed.

“There are plants that are critically affected and it will take us some time to fix those‚” he said.


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