Strike could backfire

Kea' Modimoeng

Kea' Modimoeng

What was supposed to be a strike against electricity tariffs may backfire against the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) and its members.

The Chamber of Mines warned yesterday that the national strike would hinder coal production and ultimately affect electricity supply by Eskom.

Deputy communications adviser Jabu Maphalala said the protest against the rise in electricity prices was counterproductive.

"A strike will impact on mining production, including coal production," said Maphalala.

Earlier in the year, when there was an electricity crisis, part of the problem Eskom had was the depletion of coal stockpiles which formed part of the discussions between labour, Eskom, government and the mining industry.

"But the strike today will affect the production of coal mining companies, which ultimately has an impact on Eskom's success in generating electricity," said Maphalala.

While gold producers were hit almost across the board by the stayaway as there was virtually no production for the day, platinum miners appeared to be less impacted.

Fanie van Staden, general manager of Pamodzi Gold in the Free State operation, said: "Not even a single employee of the Cosatu affiliates arrived at work on Wednesday morning (yesterday), resulting in us stopping production for the day."

Patrick Craven, Cosatu national spokesperson, said: "We want a change in policy, and a fairer system on tariffs. As Cosatu we also want more reaffirmations that no jobs will be lost as a result of tariff hikes," he said.

In Tshwane, where the strike action was attended by more than 40000 people, the strain was heaviest on local businesses.

André van Vollenhoven, centre manager of the Sammy Marks Square in Pretoria, said: "Cosatu asked for all our retail stores to close. Shop owners lost a full day of sales and this will definitely affect their profits. Our centre has lost millions of rands due to this strike." - With I-Net Bridge