Johannesburg, South Africa — ESI-AFRICA.COM — 06 May 2011 – South African national power utility Eskom Holdings has a commitment from the trade unions that the country’s power supply will not be disrupted due to ongoing wage talks, according to chief executive Brian Dames.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) is demanding a 16% wage hike for its members at the utility, and has threatened strike action to ensure that its demands are met.

“We’ve started the negotiation process and we will make sure we deal with that in the best interests of Eskom and the best interests of the South African electricity consumer,” Dames told Reuters on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum for Africa meeting.

“It’s very important that we don’t impact the power system, and I have commitments from the trade unions that this will not happen,” he added.

He pointed out that it was important to balance the needs of the company, which needed billions of dollars to build new generating capacity, and that of electricity consumers to ensure there was no interruption to power supply.

In 2008, a near collapse of the national grid forced mines and smelters to shut their operations for several days, costing the economy billions of dollars in lost output.