Lamu coal power plant
Bucket of coal and helmet coal miner. Credit: 123rf

Earlier this week, the National Trade Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA), announced that it will continue with its nationwide strike following Eskom’s move to close five coal power stations.

Buzz South Africa reported that the union’s general secretary Irvin Jim, confirmed the strike action on Friday.

Jim highlighted that the closure will have a direct impact on over 30,000 people, which are both Eskom employees and within the related sectors. Read more…

Numsa defends affected employees

In a statement last week, Eskom’s national spokesperson, Khulu Phasiwe, highlighted that this move is necessary to accommodate independent renewable power producers (IPPs).

“The plan from government is to see what’s possible and we’ll see what transpires. We will make sure we mitigate against thousands of job losses.”

Jim said in a statement: “As Numsa we cannot simply sit back and allow Eskom, and this government to destroy the livelihoods of thousands of workers and their families. In an environment where there are high levels of poverty and escalating unemployment, we believe that every job counts.

“Numsa is challenging Eskom’s view that there is surplus electricity. The truth of the matter is that electricity has become extremely expensive because of price drivers, in particular coal.”

He added: “Also, what Eskom perceives as surplus energy is due to the closure of many companies which were unable to afford the high cost of electricity. In essence Eskom is directly responsible for high levels of de-industrialisation.”

Finding a workable solution

Buzz South Africa noted that according to the union, it was not hostile to the introduction IPPs by Eskom‚ but that they refuse to allow the decision to be distorted and used to retrench thousands of workers.

Jim added: “If necessary we will go on strike and if that means plunging the country into darkness, then that is the strategy we must adopt.

“We will bring this economy to its knees. We will mobilise communities to hold demonstrations and pickets because this crisis affects them too.”

The union federation’s national spokesperson, Sizwe Pamla, said Cosatu would seek a meeting with Eskom and the government to discuss the “unacceptable decision”, Buzz South Africa reported.

Pamla said: “It appears that Eskom makes decisions with no vision‚ no planning‚ and no care about consequences. If we have surplus electricity then we must cancel nuclear‚ reduce prices‚ export more to Africa and invest in building electric cars.” Read more…