Eskom must oppose Union wage demand

Issued by Ghaleb Cachalia MP – DA Shadow Minister of Public Enterprises
14 Apr 2023 in News

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Ghaleb Cachalia MP.

On 26 -27 January 2023, the Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises, the Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources and Energy and the Select Committee on Public Enterprises and Communications did a joint oversight visit to Eskom where it met with organised labour and the board and executive management of Eskom.

Following the oversight visit, a report of the Joint portfolio committee visit was drafted. The report which is currently being perused by the committee for consideration and adoption on 19 April, makes the following observation:

4.1.1        (the Committee) appreciated and welcomed the constructive informed inputs of organised labour, however noted that it was important for unions to put national interest ahead of their own and be realistic on their expectations, especially during negotiations.

With the ink barely dry on the report, the biggest labour union at Eskom jumped the gun and announced that it wants a 15% wage increase whilst the utility fails to generate adequate electricity to meet the country’s needs.

The National Union of Mineworkers, as reported by Bloomberg, wants the same raise for all workers along with other increases in allowances for housing and other benefits.

This follows violent protests last year when some workers were intimidated from reporting for duty and increased power shortages contributed to a record. Moreover, it is worth noting that Eskom employees aren’t allowed to strike legally, as the provision of electricity is considered an essential service.

The Democratic Alliance will seek to strengthen the observation contained in the oversight report and oppose this obscene wage demand, at a time when the country is heading for stage 8 loadshedding, due in large measure to the bloated staff component at the utility and the acts of sabotage carried out by many of its members.

The DA implores Eskom to stand its ground against these demands and reserves the right to oppose, in the courts of law, any constitutional transgression and strike action which may ensue from the demands of unions whose personal interests clearly trump the nation’s interests at a time of considerable crisis in the electricity sector.