Trade Unions vow to fight government’s proposed renewable energy programme


Sello Theletsane

JOHANNESBURG- The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has become the latest Union to join forces with NUM and Numsa ahead of Saturday 17 November protest against the decimation of jobs by the mining, energy and construction sectors.

Cosatu said its decision to join other participants of the march was mainly because “the cost of living is going through the roof and workers are being forced to pay for the mistake of others. There is no appetite to deal with rampant corruption, wasteful expenditure and gross mismanagement of public resources.”

“We see more and more attacks against our labour rights, as evidenced by naked attempts to eradicate our right to bargain collectively and to strike. Workers are tired of hearing excuses from the apologists for the capitalist system that is plunging more and more people into poverty. The government cannot continue to explain away poverty as a thing unconnected with the normal workings of capitalism, the system that they so warmly embrace.”

“Government interventions have been marginal at best and what we continue to see is a continuation of policies that perpetuate the corporate welfare of the last two decades. In an attempt at restoring profitability, we are starting to see the destruction of the state, urge to privatise state entities and massive retrenchments that add to our already high unemployment, particularly among the women and young workers.”

Earlier Numsa had said in their statement that they tried to interdict the department of energy after learning of its plans to finalise IPP contracts.

“It costs Eskom 40c per kWh to produce electricity through nuclear, and the cost of coal is less than R1. But Eskom pays R2,22 from IPP’s which it then sells to the consumer at 85c.

“What kind of nonsensical, impractical arrangement is this? It is obvious that the state is deliberately trying to collapse Eskom! It is our duty as the working class to defend this valuable SOE,” Irvin Jim said in a statement.

Numsa, in defence of its decision to march with other Unions, said: “We are participating in this march because we believe it is consistent with our commitment to advancing the interests of the working class … the challenges facing workers at Eskom, affect us all, regardless of union affiliation.

“This is a battle for our survival and this is why we believe that unity of the working class on this issue is paramount.”

According to Numsa, the closure of five coal-fired power stations in Mpumalanga by the state will leave at least 92 000 workers jobless.

“Eskom is a victim of gross mismanagement and looting by some senior executive managers and the board”

NUM deputy president Phillip Vilakazi said: “The National Union of Mineworkers is not against renewable energy. We are extremely worried about the jobs that are going to be destroyed. If the independent power producers have no power generating, let them compete with Eskom. We’re going to defend these jobs.”