Eskom refutes reports of looming 7,000 retrenchments

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JOHANNESBURG, August 23 – Embattled State-owned power utility Eskom on Thursday, refuted reports that it was planning to retrench thousands of workers over a five-year period to 2023.

According to Reuters, senior manager at Eskom Marion Hughes said in a strategy presentation that Eskom intends to reduce headcount from 48,678 to 41,613 by 2023 across all levels through normal attrition.

The reports angered the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) which said that it was deeply angered by Eskom’s decision to retrench 7,000 workers in the next five years through “voluntary packages” without proper consultation.

Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe said that the union, or the media, seem to have gotten their lines crossed.

“They are 100 percent correct with their analysis that Eskom will lose about 7,000 workers in the next five years. Eskom is losing people. On average, over the last few years, Eskom has been losing four percent of its staff due to natural attrition, with people resigning, ill health, but not actively retrenching them,” Phasiwe said.

“Eskom has no plans to retrench. This report about retrenchments is false and misleading. It the report was true, they would be correct that Eskom has not consulted them. But we are not retrenching people.”

Phasiwe made an example about one of his colleagues who recently resigned and joined one of the big banks, saying her resignation might have been “stress-related” but she was not retrenched.

Paris Mashego, NUM energy sector coordinator, had said that Eskom’s decision was informed by financial constraints the power utility was experiencing lately.

The troubled power utility is currently engaged in protracted wage negotiations with trade unions including NUM over their demand for higher wages after workers rejected the seven percent increase offer with once-off bonuses on condition that Eskom does not take disciplinary action against them for engaging in protest action. (ANA)