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Num threatens Eskom ‘shutdown’ ahead of vote

Union is planning march to Luthuli House in opposition of government’s plan to split up the utility.

Eskom’s biggest union threatened a week-long shutdown at the power utility ahead of national elections in May in the latest sign of tensions between President Cyril Ramaphosa and organised labour.

The National Union of Mineworkers opposes the government’s plans to split Eskom into generation, transmission and distribution units, it said in a statement. The labour group is planning a march to the ruling African National Congress’s Johannesburg headquarters on March 30.

Read: Eskom in danger of collapse without bailout, South Africa says

“If our march to Luthuli House will produce results we might reconsider our position,” Paris Mashego, Num’s energy coordinator, said by phone, referring to the ANC office. If not, the union’s members will not report for duty at the utility from May 3 to May 8, he said.

Eskom spokesman Khulu Phasiwe didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment. Eskom’s workers are not legally allowed to strike because the utility provides an essential service.

The Num represents about 15 000 of Eskom’s 48 600 workers. Union officials met on Tuesday to discuss how its members would be affected by plans to fix the utility, which has R419 billion of debt and isn’t selling enough power to cover its interest payments and operational costs, and says it has 16 000 more workers than it needs. It’s also struggling to maintain its ageing fleet of plants that intermittently trip and cause rolling blackouts.

“So far, there is no guarantee or a solid commitment that signal there would not be retrenchments during the unbundling process,” Num said in the statement after the meeting.

The union is also calling for the cancellation of independent power-producer contracts for renewable energy that it also fears will reduce jobs spanning from coal mining to the power stations that burn the fuel.

© 2019 Bloomberg L.P

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Solution seems obvious . 15000 employees too many. 16000 NUM employees who do not want to work. Fire the 16000 num employees and immediately solve employee, money and strike problems.

Even better – wait until they strike illegally and fire them. Will save all the retrenchment costs and the whole lengthy process. Get Employees that were fired after that to ask the main brain at NUM for some money

End of comments.

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