Strike may cut power during World Cup

09:20, June 23, 2010      

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South Africa's biggest union said it was hopeful fresh wage negotiations Monday with state-owned power utility Eskom could avert a strike that could disrupt electricity supply during the World Cup.

"I hope it won't come to a strike," said Lesiba Seshoka, spokesman of the National Union of Mineworkers.

"We are prepared to give negotiations a chance, but if there is no resolution, then we will call for a strike."

The union wants a pay rise of more than three times the inflation rate of 4.8 percent as well as a housing allowance.

Eskom has offered an 8 percent raise and a once-off, 1 percent payment as a housing allowance.

Should the strike go ahead, two other unions have said they may join in the work stoppage, raising concerns about power supply in the country.

Bhabhabalazi Bulunga, Eskom's human resources managing director, said he was hopeful an agreement could be reached.

"This talks are not do or die," Bulunga told Reuters.

Eskom has said should the strike go ahead, it will implement contingency measures to minimize the impact.

A strike is unlikely to hamper electricity supply to stadiums that have standby diesel generators, but may anger millions hoping to watch World Cup matches on television.

Economists says unions are using the World Cup to squeeze pay hikes far above inflation, which could dent the economy as it emerges from its first recession in 17 years.

Source: Global Times


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