Load Shedding and Labour


Time to face some hard facts – South Africa is experiencing a serious shortage of electricity.  Load shedding is but a nice euphemism for a “power shortage”.

This shortage of electricity causes a serious knock-on effect for employers with production days lost. If we put it simply, overheads stays the same but income and profitability drops.  Most politicians do not have even the merest grasp of the complexities of running a business, let alone the even greater challenges of running a small to medium business. Most of them are marginal as it is.

Rent does not decrease when production days are lost nor insurance, bank charges, debt repayments or interest on bank overdrafts. Capitalism depends on one key aspect more than others and that is to constantly add value. It’s the profits that results in prosperity.

Labour is in most cases one of the biggest expenses for employers. Short time is possible but once again within certain very restrictive grounds such as the main Agreement for the Metal Industry. Short time may be worked due to unforeseen circumstances. In practice an unscheduled lack of electricity results in paid working hours for an employee. The employer needs to give notice and where employees are sent home, four hours wages are due. Waiting for the power to come on is paid time.

A careful study of the schedule and Eskom sticking to the schedule allows employers to give notice of short time well in advance and then without paying any wages.

But workers must pay rent and insurance and debt …

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