Michele du Plessis
The effects of the recent industrial action against Eskom will take approximately 10 days to stabilise the power system, the Eskom press release stated. “Load shedding is conducted as a measure of last resort to protect the power system from a total collapse or blackout.”
COSATU made it very clear to the Minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin Gordhan, that “while we support his efforts to turn around and clean up the State Owned Entities, we will not allow a situation where workers are forced to pay for the sins of others. Our position is that the 0% offer made to workers by the Eskom negotiators is offensive and provocative,” Sizwe Pamla, COSATU National Spokesperson said.
On June 15, the Minister of Department of Public Enterprises convened a meeting with the Eskom board and management and the three labour unions with the intention to bring all parties back to the negotiation table. The parties agreed that the 0% offer from Eskom is off the table, to normalise operations immediately and to engage on the key issues that impact the future sustainability of Eskom, such as coal costs.
“We want to make it very clear that we will remain vigilant and will ensure that the workers at Eskom are not made to pay a price for the sins of others. Wage negations should not be counter imposed with the talk of retrenchments or of the privatisation of the power utility. COSATU also remains adamant that the power utility should remain in the hands of the state. We also want the law enforcement agencies to expedite the process of bringing to book all the culprits that are responsible for looting and mismanaging Eskom,” Sizwe Pamla, Cosatu National Spokesperson said.
The estimated ten-day prognosis for full restoration is due to the effects of the industrial action which interrupted continuous processes at the power plants. These processes have now to be cleared out and restarted which would take additional time.
“These include coal management and the inability to transport coal from our coal stockyards to our coal bunkers due to the absence of operating staff. In addition, the already low coal stockpiles at some stations were exacerbated by road closures as coal delivery had to be suspended. A significant increase in plant outages and a bottleneck in routine maintenance due to the lack of resources to optimally operate the plant; such as ash clearing and mechanical failures that occurred during the period. In addition, Eskom is currently managing diesel levels at our peaking plants at 50% to ensure that sufficient diesel generation is available for emergencies. (Eskom press release)
Eskom continues to encourage residents and businesses to please use electricity sparingly to ease the demand for electricity. “Please switch off geysers during the day especially during peak periods (07:00 to 10:00 and 18:00 to 21:00) as well as all non-essential lighting and electricity appliances to assist in reducing demand.”
Customers are advised to keep checking their load shedding schedules on the Eskom or their municipal website and plan on the assumption that load shedding will take place. In the event that load shedding becomes necessary, Eskom and the municipalities will use load shed according to the published load shedding schedules.
Eskom will provide regular updates on the status of the power system through all media platforms.