Gordhan intervenes on Eskom pay dispute

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Ayanda Mdluli

JOHANNESBURG- Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan has launched an intervention to try and curb the standoff between Eskom executives and union leaders.

Currently, SA’s power utility is embroiled in a messy industrial action that has resulted in load shedding, further damaging an economy that has already contracted by more than 2% in the first quarter.

 

Last week, newly appointed Eskom CEO, Phakamani Hadebe offered workers a 0% salary increase, arguing that the institution was in financial distress. This is the first time in the company’s history that workers have been offered a 0% increase.

Adil Nchebeleng, the leader of TransformRSA which has been very vocal about the implications of signing 27 Independent Power Producers (IPPs) by energy minister Jeff Radebe revealed that the current Eskom CEO was getting paid more than R8 million a year which translates to a net salary of about R404 000 a month.

According to Nchabeleng, the salary of Hadebe is 115 times higher than that of the average worker at Eskom.

On Friday, Gordhan instructed Eskom to resume negotiations with immediate effect. “It was agreed that the 0% offer from Eskom is off the table. We also agreed to normalize operations and immediately and restore production to ensure the security of electricity supply,” said Gordhan.

Gordhan added that the state-owned company would engage in other key issues that may impact its future sustainability, such as the cost of coal and the impact of policy including the Independent Power Producers programme.

The company and the Department of Energy, under the leadership of Jeff Radebe have endured a baptism of fire from unions such as the National Union of Metal Workers of SA (NUMSA) and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and civil society organisations who claim that the signing of the 27 IPPs will lead to massive job losses in the energy sector.

Unions claim that close to 92 000 jobs are on the line as a result of the signing of the 27 IPPs by Radebe in April. On Sunday Eskom said its power system remained constrained despite several units being returned to service.

“The risk for load shedding during the course of today remains high due to a shortage of capacity from the effects of the recent industrial action and will remain so in the coming week. Some employees continue to work around the clock to restore stability to operations and supply. We assure customers that all available emergency energy resources are used before load shedding is implemented,” said the company in a statement.

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