JOHANNESBURG, November 30 – The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa’s (Numsa) members are picketing outside Eskom head office expressing unhappiness over a host of issues, including a looming electricity tariff increase.
Numsa is opposed to Eskom’s request for a 19.9% tariff increase and is against labour brokering at the power utility.
The union said corruption of Eskom management and board was “shockingly embarrassing at a time they offer apartheid wages to employees.
Numsa spokesperson, Phakamile Hlubi, said together with the United Front they were opposed to “Eskom’s outrageous request for a 19.9% tariff increase” request.
Hlubi also said the union was concerned by reports of corruption allegedly involving Eskom management and board. The union was also opposed to labour brokering. The union spokesperson said Numsa members wanted an “end to the apartheid wage gap in the Eskom workplace”.
Numsa said it believes the economy has been in technical recession for some time, which it said was a threat to jobs across all sectors and the tariff hike demand by Eskom will expose many to job losses.
“Currently more than 36% of the working population is unemployed and the numbers are increasing. More than 30.4 million of the population live in abject poverty. Any change in the price of electricity will compound all these problems and increase the chances of a violent explosion in the country,” read part of the Numsa memorandum.
Numsa also demanded that Eskom employees be given free electricity.
“We demand that Eskom must change its mandate from profit-seeking to ensuring that South Africa is adequately electrified both for domestic and industrial life,’’ said the union.
Numsa shop steward and employee at Eskom, Ben Ngula, claimed that the company doesn’t offer any incentives to employees and yet corruption was “tolerated”.
Inside the Eskom headquarters, a disciplinary hearing for Eskom Group CEO and head of generation, Matshela Koko, who is facing charges of serious misconduct was taking place.
He was defending himself against accusations that his relatives, including his step daughter, benefited from lucrative contracts with Eskom in breach of the rules of the power utility.
“The biggest challenge is the increase of tariffs which Eskom has requested. One must be clear, I am an Eskom employee, we don’t get anything from Eskom, for example, there is no subsidy Eskom for employees yet you hear of high-level corruption,” said Ngula.