Eskom vows disciplinary action as generating capacity slips

A file photo shows the under-construction Kusile power station. Image: JMK/Wikimedia Commons

Eskom said most of its workforce is in place, despite some ongoing demonstrations that started last week after a breakdown in wage negotiations, though generation capacity has yet to improve.

“The greater majority of employees are reporting for duty,” Eskom said in an e-mailed reply to questions. There were still some “sporadic protests” and demonstrations on Monday and there’s more generation capacity unavailable than there was in previous days.

Wage negotiations between labour groups and Eskom ended in a deadlock last week, followed by protests at the majority of its coal-fired power stations that generate the bulk of South Africa’s electricity. Power outages that are implemented to protect the grid from a total collapse were extended until Wednesday as the utility builds up emergency reserves.

The system had about 22.5GW of generation capacity unavailable at midday on Monday, Eskom said. In the previous three days, that amount ranged between 20GW and 21.2GW, showing a deterioration in performance.

Strike action at Eskom is illegal because electricity is considered an essential service. “Disciplinary processes will commence once the situation is under control,” Eskom said. “At this point in time, our efforts and resources are directed at keeping the lights on.”

The developments have added to Eskom’s struggle to meet electricity demand with unreliable and mostly ageing stations, while even its newest plants are prone to defects.  — (c) 2022 Bloomberg LP