(Bloomberg) -- South Africa’s power utility Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. said workers are returning to their posts, without any signs of unrest, following a meeting between the company and labor groups.
Protests that started after wage negotiations stalled escalated earlier this week as roads to power plants were blocked and petrol bombs were thrown at the homes of managers, resulting in the worst electricity shortages since 2019. Unions asked workers to “give the process of negotiations a chance” after resuming discussions with Eskom over a wage offer.
“Many employees are peacefully returning to work and that there are no incidents of protest reported so far today,” spokesperson Sikonathi Mantshantsha said in a text message. “The details of any wage offer will be made known on Friday when the wage negotiations resume.”
Eskom implemented so-called Stage 6 -- taking 6,000 megawatts off the grid -- on Tuesday in order to prevent a total collapse of the system. The same level is scheduled from 4 p.m. local time on Wednesday.
The National Union of Mineworkers and National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa, Eskom’s biggest labor groups, said in a statement late Tuesday that meetings with the company made “considerable progress in that negotiations have been able to break new ground with a new offer.”
The wage talks “will undoubtedly be watched closely by policymakers,” BNP Paribas senior economist Jeffrey Schultz said in an emailed note. The central bank, “because of the threat of higher wage settlements into inflation, and the Treasury, which is currently in the throes of its own wage negotiation with unions that continue to demand 10% wage hikes.”
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