15/06/2018 13:53 SAST | Updated 15/06/2018 13:53 SAST

'We Will Fight To The Bitter End' – Unions To Eskom

Unions say they will continue to fight for wage increases, despite Eskom's court interdict to stop protests.

File footage of a 2014 Numsa strike.
Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
File footage of a 2014 Numsa strike.

Unions have threatened to continue fighting for workers at Eskom who are demanding a 15 percent wage increase — despite the parastatal obtaining a court interdict preventing mass industrial action.

On Thursday evening, Eskom obtained a court interdict against striking workers, in the hopes of putting an end to load shedding. The interdict declares that any industrial action, picket or gathering that occurs after June 11 is unprotected and unlawful. Most workers at Eskom are 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.

But this had not deterred the unions.

National Union of Mineworkers (Num) spokesman Livhuwani Mammburu said workers are planning peaceful pickets during lunch hours until their demands are met.

"The lunch period is not a working hour. This will go on until Eskom listens to the workers' demands. We can't make a concession on a 0 percent offer. Eskom is playing games. Phakamani Hadebe [the Eskom CEO] must learn a lesson not to undermine the workers," he said.

"We will fight to the bitter end. We will see who is more stubborn between Hadebe and the workers. Our members are not intimidating anyone. These are peaceful protests across the country."

National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola said the union is advising its members about the interdict and are urging them to hold off on protests.

"We are not surprised by Eskom getting a court interdict. Eskom is a brutal employer [that] doesn't recognise our right to protest. We intend to fight the interdict. We will pursue this in court. We are in the process of advising our members about the interdict and are advising them not to picket," she said.

"In spite of massive corruption, massive looting by senior managers at Eskom, ordinary workers worked hard to keep the lights on. Our lawyers are studying the judgment. Eskom has no evidence to accuse our members of sabotage. They said they had a contingency plan for when the strike takes place; why didn't they exercise that plan? They are blaming workers."