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Eskom workers expected back at work

Eskom workers are expected back at work this morning following violent industrial strike action, which plunged the country into an electricity supply crunch over the past week.

The power utility was forced to implement Stage 6 load shedding on Tuesday when up to 90% of staff could not or did not report for duty because of strike action at power stations across the country.

“Following a productive meeting earlier [on Tuesday] between Eskom and union leadership, Eskom can confirm that it has agreed in principle with the recognised labour unions on the way forward in the wage talks on Friday at the Central Bargaining Forum.

“Following this agreement, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) have urged their members to return to work immediately,” Eskom said in a statement on Tuesday.

The national electricity supplier urged all workers to put their shoulder to the wheel following strike action in order to “relieve pressure” on the ailing power system.

“Eskom also wishes to urge all employees to return to their workstations immediately to relieve the pressure on the system and to deliver the service the people of South Africa expect from Eskom, and to assist in restoring generation performance impacted by the strike.

“Eskom would also like to pay tribute and thank those many employees who keep going beyond the call of duty and continue to help the keep the lights on during this very challenging time,” the power utility said.

Eskom warned that although workers may be returning to work, the power system will not automatically return to some form of stability.

“It is important to note that while the workforce might have returned to work by [Wednesday], the system will still take some time to recover. As a result of the strike, maintenance work has had to be postponed, and this backlog will take time to clear,” the statement read.

In a press briefing on Tuesday evening, Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan condemned acts of intimidation and violence, which marred the strike action taken by workers.

“[We need] to ask some very serious questions about the intent. Is it just about wage negotiations or is it something beyond that as well that is at play at this particular point in time?

“We need to have peaceful activities in the labour context if and when that is required. There should be no resort to any form of intimidatory activity at all against staff at Eskom or any other entity that is absolutely crucial to our economy and the wellbeing of our own people,” Gordhan said.

Source: South African Government News Agency

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