“Stage 6” Power Blackouts Hit South Africa Amid Labor Unrest

(by Tyler Durden | Zero Hedge) – South African state power utility Eskom has been hit with labor unrest contributing to widespread blackouts after ten generation units went offline.

Reuters says Eskom is facing “Stage 6” power cuts that mean most South Africans will experience six hours without power, beginning Tuesday night, one of the worst power crises since 2019.

“Three of the 10 generation units that had tripped during the night have been returned to service. This, however, is still insufficient to stave off the implementation of Stage 6 load-shedding,” Eskom said in a statement.

Blackouts were caused primarily by “unlawful and unprotected labor action, which has caused widespread disruption to Eskom’s power plants,” the utility said.

Since last week, Eskom has enforced “Stage 4” power cuts, shedding 4,000 megawatts (MW) from the national grid. Stage 6 outages mean 6,000 MW will be removed.

“The group’s coal-fired power plants are prone to faults, and labor protests are constraining its ability to return units to service,” Reuters said, adding, “the protests started last week after wage talks between Eskom and trade unions, including the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa and the National Union of Mineworkers, reached deadlock.”

Eskom Chief Executive Andre de Ruyter said the strikes are unlawful because electricity is considered an essential service. A court blocked the strike, though protests still happened anyway, crippling the economy.

Bloomberg points out that energy-intensive companies, such as Anglo American Plc and Glencore Plc, which account for 40% of the nation’s electricity consumption, face severe outages and pose a safety risk to workers operating in deep-level mines.

Widespread blackouts come as growing concern about South Africa’s faltering economy of lackluster growth, soaring inflation, and high unemployment could unleash a dangerous economic environment known as “stagflation.”

People are getting angry.

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