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Eskom’s operations not adversely affected by illegal strike

By Alina Hardcastle

As Eskom celebrated its 365 days of no loading shedding on Tuesday (9 August 2016), the National Union Mineworkers (NUM) announced that 15,000 of their members, who were Eskom employees, were embarking on a full blown strike. Will Eskom’s no load-shedding victory be short-lived?

Eksom stated that their power stations and operations have not been adversely affected by the strike action. On Wednesday, the labour courts granted Eskom an interdict against the strike action by members of NUM, which effectively means that the strike action is illegal and unprotected according to section 71(8) of the Labour Relations Act. The Act states that employees working for essential service providers such as Eskom are not allowed to embark on any industrial action.

In addition, Eksom stated: “All Eskom employees are prohibited from engaging in any form of industrial action, including stay-away action and any other action that retards or obstructs Eksom’s operations.”

They added: “Any such industrial action that may occur is unprotected. Therefore, any employee that participates in such action would be carrying out an act of misconduct, and disciplinary action will be instituted against him/her.”

The power utility has a staff complement of over 47,000 workers of which more than 45,000 employees have been reporting to work since the beginning of the strike.

Eskom does not appeared concerned that the strike will affect its performance. “The majority of our employees are at work, ensuring that our operations continue as normal,” added Eksom.

The wage negotiations between Eksom and the three unions; NUM, Numsa and Solidarity continued yesterday with the backing of the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).

The unions’ demands include a wage increase of between 12% and 13%, as Eksom is currently only offering between 7% and 9% increase.

Eskom expressed that they are hopeful an amicable settlement can be reached soon.

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