Angry Eskom workers are accusing the utility of undermining and underpaying them.
On Tuesday, Eskom announced Stage 6 load shedding due to “unlawful industrial action”.
At the Kusile Power Station in Delmas, it was business as usual. Two police officers were guarding the entrance of the premises with no striking workers in sight.
At the reception, an Eskom employee told The Citizen there was no strike at the station.
“No strike, they are working. I just come from inside,” he said.
Meanwhile, 20km east, at the Kendal Power Station in Ogies, a group of Eskom workers gathered outside the gate under the watchful eyes of two officers seated in a single vehicle.
“It’s not a strike. No union has sanctioned what you see here,” one said.
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“It’s a walk-out. As soon as Eskom walked out, we walked out,” another worker added.
The workers agreed to speak anonymously in fear of being victimised or fired.
“We are irritated and feel like Eskom was disrespecting us by walking out on the wage negotiations,” a worker said.
“After that, we felt they were not negotiating in good faith. Then they go around telling the media someone is sabotaging them,” another said.
“Look, we will never sabotage them. Never, ever. But we are now outside because they don’t want to bring back our conditions of service, which they took unlawfully,” the worker added.
The workers said an increase was the last thing they were concerned about right now.
“The conditions of service is on top of the list. Our conditions and benefits were taken away and amended by [chief executive André] De Ruyter,” they said.
The workers said they had met with management and were waiting for the outcome.
“We really want to help out. Look at Kendal, it is not in a good state,” they said.
They felt insulted when De Ruyter called them incompetent. Some have been working at Eskom for more than 30 years.
A boilermaker, who has been with Eskom for 34 years, said he was earning R16,000 without benefits.
“We have been running this power station for some time and then he says we are incompetent and violent. We are not violent, we are just sitting outside. We will not go back inside until we get the feedback we want,” another said.
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“They pretend that everything is fine. We are headed to stage 8 load shedding. They shouldn’t bullsh*t the public and tell them lies,” another added.
The workers said safety was dodgy and there was a lot wrong at the power station.
“Go look at what’s going on in there,” they said.
Eskom spokesperson Sikonathi Mantshantsha said Eskom had declared a deadlock on wage talks once it became clear the parties were still too far apart and no agreement would be reached.
“This is a mechanism available to any of the parties,” he said.