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Numsa strike could affect Eskom operations

There is concern the Numsa strike might have an impact on Eskom’s operations.

Members of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) picket at Megawatt Park, Sunninghill on 2 July 2014. Picture: Sebabatso Mosamo/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene says he is concerned about the impact the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa)-led strike could have on Eskom's operations.

The metalworkers union started its mass action on Tuesday, demanding better pay from more than 10,000 companies.

Watch: Thousands join nationwide Numsa strike

Eskom was granted a court interdict preventing its essential services employees from taking part in the strike, which they have.

Nene says that while government is worried, it won't intervene in the labour dispute.

"We are concerned. Energy is a major constraint, even as we speak and we therefore would really love a situation where that area is not affected. If it is, it would have an impact."

Meanwhile, Numsa says Eskom, economists and employers in the metals and automotive sectors cannot blame its members for a deteriorating economy.

The union delivered a memorandum of demands to Eskom officials on Wednesday following a two-hour picket outside the utility's headquarters in Sunninghill.

The union's Steve Nhlapo says paying workers a decent wage will increase the country's buying power, thereby boosting the local economy.

"These workers have got no buying power, then there's no economy. Who is going to buy those products that are produced?"

But Eskom's Andrew Etzinger says if union members continue to stay away, the no work no pay principle will apply.

Numsa has given Eskom until Friday to respond to its demands but it's unclear whether workers will continue to stay away.

Watch: JHB Numsa strike in pictures