Eskom jumped from stage two to stage four of its blackout schedule earlier today, with power cuts in effect until midnight on Friday.

Meanwhile, City of Cape Town customers will be on Stage 3 until 22:00.

Stage four of Eskom’s schedule will remain in place, between 05:00 and midnight, over the weekend as well.

The power utility earlier warned that the system had been put under further strain, following “operational disturbances” at several facilities.

This comes after Eskom employees protested at nine of its power stations and other operating facilities yesterday.

Spokesperson, Sikonathi Mantshantsha, says the power utility had to take these precautionary measures to preserve emergency reserves.

“These protests included incidents of intimidation of working employees and blockading of roads leading to power stations and other facilities, inhibiting the free flow of personnel and commodities required for the generation of electricity and smooth operations. The increased unavailability of plant has necessitated an extensive usage of emergency generation reserves, which are depleting faster than can be replenished.”

In May, metalworkers’ union, NUMSA, demanded a 15% wage increase across the board, but Eskom’s management said it could not afford that.

The failing power utility says it’s currently exploring possible solutions to unlock the deadlock on wage talks with its employees.