Eskom’s ability to keep the lights on could be compromised with intimidation and road blockages "rife" at most of Eskom's power stations and regional offices on Thursday morning, according to a tweet by the power utility's spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe.
Phasiwe also tweeted that the power supply to Eskom's head office in Suninghill had "mysteriously" been cut off. Six power stations rely on local coal supply, and these will be the most affected by the delivery stoppages.
Disgruntled workers belonging to the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the National Union of Metalworkers (Numsa) are expected to hand over a memorandum to the parastatal’s management at the Sunninghill head office at lunchtime on Thursday, demanding 15% wage increases. The cash-strapped power utility has offered 0% wage hikes for the financial year. The parastatal's management team is holding an emergency meeting on Thursday morning to address the possibility of load shedding.
Phasiwe promised to provide regular updates on various media platforms. A placard circulating on social media warned workers against reporting for duty at Eskom during the one-day strike saying that people would be "subjecting" themselves to risk. However, Numsa spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi distanced the labour organisation from the threatening poster.
NUM spokesperson Livhuwani Mammburu, meanwhile, said police on Wednesday nighht fired rubber bullets to disperse workers who were gathered outside the power stations in Kendal, Thuthuka, Hendrina and Arnot.
"The police are intimidating the workers, in what is an attempt to prevent the picket, one employee was shot in the eye by a rubber bullet outside Arnot power station."
"The workers will be joining the picket despite the threats, they are determined to make our voices heard" he said.
At a press briefing on Wednesday, Eskom CEO Phakamani Hadebe said that contingency plans were in place to keep the lights on during the one-day strike but cautioned there were no guarantees the power utility would be able to do this.
Labour federation the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) leaders met Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan on Wednesday afternoon, and they said he promised to call Eskom’s negotiators back to the table and up their offer, in order to avert a full-blown strike.