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Eskom 'well prepared' for wildcat strike

Eskom says it’s prepared for an unprotected strike by employees & unscheduled blackouts are unlikely.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) members protest outside Eskom offices in Morningside, northern Johannesburg on 4 August 2014 against essential services designation of Eskom staff. Picture: Govan Whittles/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Eskom says it's well prepared for an unprotected strike being threatened by its employees and unscheduled blackouts are highly unlikely.

Both the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) have warned they cannot be blamed for wildcat strikes if the power utility refuses to guarantee the right to down tools with a minimum service agreement.

On Monday the NUM staged a demonstration outside Eskom's headquarters in Megawatt Park but employees who took part now face disciplinary action.

This is after the Labour Court interdicted the union because Eskom has been declared an essential service.

The utility's managing director Andrew Etzinger says, "We have contingencies in place. We invoke those contingencies in times such as this. We've had walk-outs in the past and these contingencies have kept operations going, so we are prepared."

Meanwhile, Numsa is reportedly planning to approach the Labour Court today, in a bid to force the National Employers Association of South Africa (Neasa) to end a nationwide lock-out.

The lock-out started after the employer association rejected an agreement reached between Numsa and the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of South Africa (Seifsa), bringing a one-month strike for higher wages to an end.

The parties agreed to a salary increase of between 7.5 and 10 percent over three years but Neasa is only prepared to pay 8 percent.

Numsa treasurer Mphumzi Maqungo says of the 3,000 companies Neasa represents, only 60 are taking part in the lock out.

"As the plan goes on we have employees under Neasa who have moved out, who do not agreeing with the employer's position. They don't believe it is the right approach."