Eskom has obtained a court interdict against striking workers, in the hopes of putting an end to load shedding. According to Fin24, Eskom obtained the interdict from the Labour Court on Thursday night. It declares that any industrial action, picket or gathering that occurs after Jun 11 is unprotected and unlawful.
Most workers at Eskom are reportedly considered essential services and are not allowed to strike.
The order reportedly prevents workers from tripping the power supply, hijacking coal trucks, interfering with coal supply, blocking entrances, and intimidating other employees.
Eskom implemented Stage 1 load shedding around the country on Thursday night due to "severe capacity constraints", its spokesman said. It was lifted after about two hours.
#PowerUpdate: Stage 1 loadshedding was lifted at 19:59 this evening. Please note that it may take a bit of time for some municipalities to fully restore power in some of the affected areas.— Khulu Phasiwe (@KhuluPhasiwe) June 14, 2018
Eskom's load shedding was the direct result of striking municipal workers, it said, where power supply was reportedly interrupted by protests.
#PowerUpdate: Due to severe power constraints, Eskom will implement stage 1 of loadshedding from now (17:50) until 20:00. Acts of intimidation and sabotage have resulted in Eskom being unable to ensure uninterrupted power supply.— Khulu Phasiwe (@KhuluPhasiwe) June 14, 2018
While unions the National Union of Metalworkers SA, the National Union of Mineworkers (Num) and Solidarity have not yet responded to the interdict, they have previously warned that Thursday's industrial action was just the beginning.
Workers are furious that Eskom has offered a zero percent wage increase across the board.
According to TimesLive, addressing a picket at Eskom's headquarters in Johannesburg on Thursday, Numsa president Andrew Chirwa reportedly said,
"They have not learned their lesson. In Marikana there was a court interdict but it failed. There were many strikes where there were court interdicts but they failed. The court interdict cannot give workers a guaranteed increase. If the negotiations fail‚ it is upon you to take action in your own hands."
Unions have said Eskom's financial woes are not the fault of the workers.
The NUM's Joseph Montisetsi told Eyewitness News (EWN),
"It is clear that they have been careless and there's a bloated structure there, lots of executives earning lots of money and taking home huge bonuses. So we can't compromise that people should continue to live luxury life while our members are suffering."
Experts have reportedly warned that the Eskom strike should not be taken lightly. Energy expert Chris Yelland told Times Select that protests outside power stations would not be a problem as power stations have enough coal to last for a month. Protests inside the stations, however, were a different story.
"While there have not yet been such threats, the problem comes in if there are disruptions within the premises. The power station bunkers only have enough coal in them for one day. If there is a disruption of the transportation of coal to the bunkers, and essential staff who operate certain equipment are stopped from going to work, then there will be an almost immediate shutdown and possible blackouts," he reportedly said.