Eskom CEO Phakamani Hadebe rescued from bottle-throwing workers
The CEO came under fire after receiving a memorandum of demands from workers angry over a proposed wage freeze
Eskom CEO Phakamani Hadebe was rescued by police and security guards when angry workers began throwing water bottles outside Megawatt Park in Johannesburg on Thursday.
Hadebe received a cold reception when he came out to receive a memorandum of demands from trade union members who were demonstrating against management’s announcement they would not receive a salary increase this year.
Workers hurled insults‚ some booed and others showed him the middle finger.
After Hadebe signed the memorandum‚ he attempted to address the crowd at Eskom’s headquarters but his words were drowned out by boos.
He then left the stage.
As he walked towards the gate‚ angry workers began charging towards him and throwing water bottles in his direction.
Police and security guards quickly jumped in and prevented any possibility of an assault on Hadebe.
National Union of Mineworkers shop steward Keagile Pholoba told workers gathered at Megawatt Park that electricity production had been hit by Thursday’s protest.
The company confirmed power supply was "constrained due to the effects of industrial action".
Detailing the strike's effect on Mpumalanga power stations, Pholoba said: "All units are down at Arnot (coal-fired power station)‚ just one is left. There is no coal on top of that.
"Hendrina is running on two units. Kendel is running on one unit.
"(In) the new power station, Kusile‚ all units are red. Duvha station has only two units. Komati‚ the smallest power station‚ is running with one unit‚" said Pholoba.
The NUM and the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) are fuming after Eskom came to the negotiation table with an offer of a 0% wage increase. The unions want a double-digit increase for their members.
NUM and Numsa leaders are expected to address the workers later in the day.
Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe said in a midday statement: "The generation and distribution of electricity across Eskom’s network is constrained today due to the acts of sabotage and intimidation that characterise the current industrial action by members of the trade unions.
"There have been several incidents of road blockades‚ attacks on staff‚ and wilful damage of electricity infrastructure.
"As a result‚ all road coal deliveries have been stopped for security reasons. The safety of all our employees is of paramount importance to us during this time."
The power stations worst affected by the industrial action were Hendrina‚ Camden‚ Kendal and Arnot‚ Phasiwe said.
Earlier on Thursday he tweeted images of the protest action at its plants‚ adding: "Meanwhile‚ power supply has just been ‘mysteriously’ cut off at Eskom head office Megawatt Park."
Residents of the Joburg suburbs of Rivonia and Marlboro Gardens complained on social media that they had been without power since about 10am.
It is not clear whether this is related to the protest‚ as frequent outages have been experienced by customers of City Power in Johannesburg this year.
The entity has previously blamed technical problems due to ageing equipment‚ planned maintenance and cable theft for the outages.
Overnight and again this morning‚ several suburbs in the city were in the dark.