Power utility Eskom says it has experienced protests at nine of its power stations and other operating facilities over the past 24 hours, by some of its employees who have embarked on unprotected strike action following a deadlock in wage negotiations on Tuesday.
These protests included incidents of intimidation of working employees and blockading of roads leading to power stations and other facilities, inhibiting the free flow of personnel and commodities required for the generation of electricity and smooth operations, the group said.
“The increased unavailability of plant has necessitated an extensive usage of emergency generation reserves, which are depleting faster than can be replenished,” Eskom said.
“Eskom cautions the public that should these criminal acts of intimidation persist or spread, this would increase the risk of operational disturbances and the implementation of load shedding at higher stages. Ahead of these disturbances, the power system had already been under considerable strain for a while, with stage 2 load shedding currently being implemented.”
Labour protests causing operational disturbances bring more loadshedding risk pic.twitter.com/TQ8AhziLtj
— Eskom Hld SOC Ltd (@Eskom_SA) June 24, 2022
The group said that the provision of electricity is an essential service in which industrial action is not permitted. “The free movement of personnel and transportation of commodities in and out of power stations are essential to ensure smooth operations and to limit load shedding to current levels and below,” it said.
While exploring possible solutions to unlock the deadlock on the wage talks, Eskom said it has reported these acts of illegality to the South African Police Service and requested the assistance of the SAPS and other security services in restoring order.
“Eskom will continue to closely monitor the situation and promptly communicate any developments should the need arise,” it said.