• Eskom strike forces power rationing, with threats of total shutdown

    Date posted:

    • Post Author

      Patrick Lavery

      Combustion Industry News Editor

A strike by workers seeking greater pay has led to power shortages in South Africa, with an escalation in the situation possible. The National Union of Mineworkers and the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa, who together represent 20,000 of the 47,000 workers of the state-owned power utility Eskom, want a 15% pay rise, which is 15% above what Eskom is offering, having narrowly avoided a “liquidity crunch” earlier this year. With no compromise in the offing, the unions have threatened a total shutdown of power plant operations if their demands are not met, a huge step up from the partial power outages that have been effected so far. With the last major blackouts in 2015, South African economic output dropped, meaning there will be political pressure from the highest levels of government for there to be a resolution and an avoidance of outages, especially during the colder winter months. However, the fact that former president Jacob Zuma was implicated in a corruption scandal involving Eskom may curb the extent of political pressure. As one employee told Reuters, however, “It’s not the workers’ fault that the company is suffering because of corruption,” and it is difficult not to feel pity for the workers on that basis.