06/08/2010 Irvin Jim General Secretary of NUMSA during a media statement on the planned Auto Industry strike action held at their offices in JHB. (564) Photo: Leon Nicholas

Johannesburg - The National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) will consider legal options following Eskom being granted a 9.4% tariff increase as it believes this may lead to job losses.

The union’s general secretary Irvin Jim said on Tuesday that the organisation was also outraged at the increase. It would hit working-class consumers hard as they were already struggling with rises in school fees, transport costs and food prices.

“Also at risk are workers in companies struggling to survive in a harsh economic climate. Jobs are already in the firing line and the tariff increase could be used as the excuse to start retrenching. The Chamber of Mines has already warned that if Eskom’s application was approved, 40 000 jobs could be lost,” he said in a statement.

“Numsa will be convening meetings in all the companies which will be directly affected by the increases, some of which will face closure, with a view to taking action to defend every job. We shall also consider legal options.”

Jim said Numsa was concerned that there was now great danger that Eskom’s financial woes would be used to justify what were veiled threats in the Budget to increase private sector involvement. This would mean that the electricity utility would be more concerned about making a profit than servicing the public.

“The problems faced by Eskom, SAA, the Post Office and other state-owned enterprises have arisen not because they are publically owned and lack private involvement, but because they are being run bureaucratically as if they were already privately owned capitalist entities, with huge bonuses for executive and, high process for consumers and austerity and retrenchments for workers,” Jim said.

Eskom initially asked for a 25% increase, but later decreased it to 16.6%.

Labour Bureau