“Eskom cannot plead poverty when it is wasting over 3 billion per annum on private security contracts”

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The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) met with Eskom management on Thursday for wage talks. Eskom revised its offer again and offered 5,25% increase. We rejected the proposal because we feel that Eskom can do better.  Food inflation is extremely high, and the cost of fuel and basic goods has skyrocketed. And to make matters worse, the South African Reserve Bank has hiked interest rates, which means our members are going to struggle even more to make ends meet. 

NUMSA general secretary Irvin Jim said workers at Eskom have, for the last three years been subjected to austerity measures. “The allowances have not changed since 2016/17 and this is because Eskom has been taking away from workers, in order to fund bloated costly Primary energy contracts which have ballooned from R83 billion, in the 2017 financial year, to R155 billion in the 2023 financial year”.

Jim added that to make matters worse, the former disgraced GCEO of Eskom Andre De Ruyter confirmed in his affidavit to the High Court that Eskom spends approximately R3.2 billion per annum on private security.

“Eskom management says that Treasury has promised to fund them, but the funding comes with conditions and that these monies cannot be used to improve wages and benefits of workers at Eskom. Treasury must explain the rationale for denying workers increases, and yet, it continuously approves the bloated primary energy contracts”.

He asked how can it be fair to take away workers’ benefits and wages, so the private sector can benefit? Where is the justification for the outrageous expenditure on private security contracts, especially, when we are told that the South African army is also guarding power stations?

“What National Treasury should do is to make sure that it allocates enough money so workers can at least have decent wage increase. At the same time, it must implement the cabinet directive which was given in 2019 which called for the primary energy contracts to be renegotiated or set aside”.

NUMSA will be engaging its members at Eskom in order to seek a new mandate. They will meet again soon for another round of wage talks within the CBF which is scheduled for 13-14 June 2023.

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