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    Illegal strike at Eskom could make load shedding worse

    Eskom has warned that illegal strike action by employees at its power stations could make load shedding worse in the coming days. In the last 24 hours, the state-owned utility, which walked out of wage talks with organised labour earlier this week, is experiencing protests at nine of its power stations and at other operating facilities by striking employees.
    “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 company said. “The increased unavailability of plant has necessitated an extensive usage of emergency generation reserves, which are depleting faster than can be replenished.”

    If the situation persists or spreads, it may be forced to impose higher stages of load shedding, Eskom said. “Ahead of these disturbances, the power system had already been under considerable strain for a while, with stage-2 load shedding currently being implemented.” Eskom employees are prohibited by law from striking as the provision of electricity is an essential service. “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. Eskom appeals to its labour partners and striking employees to embrace the higher purpose of putting the people of South Africa first, respect the law and to desist from illegal and undemocratic conduct.” Eskom said it has reported the striking workers to the police and private security services to restore order. “Eskom would like to thank and acknowledge the majority of its employees, who are diligently performing their duties and many going beyond the call of duty.”

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