A battered as the continuous struggle by workers, a stained glass window delivers a poignant message and reminder on the 10th foor of COSATU House in Braamfontien. Picture: Steve Lawrence 14/07/05

Johannesburg – The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) on Tuesday called on South Africa’s national energy regulator to reject in totality Eskom’s application for increased electricity tariff hikes.

In a statement on Tuesday, Cosatu said the federation felt strongly that any tariff hike would further burden an already overwhelmed working class.

The National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) is holding public hearings into Eskom’s request for increased tariffs.

“Cosatu reiterates its previously expressed views that high electricity tariffs destroys prospects for SMEs, and forces low-income consumers to substitute electricity with dirty energy,” spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said in the statement.

Eskom has asked the regulator to authorise tariff hikes so that it can recoup R22.8 billion in overspend and unearned revenue from customers this year.

Pamla said Cosatu was also concerned that since the introduction of the multi-year-pricing system for Eskom, it had been easy for Eskom to get a further increase before the end of the multi-year-price determination period.

“Cosatu refuses to see workers being made to pay and take responsibility for bad policy decisions of the late 1990s, when government intended privatising Eskom and didn’t allow the entity to invest in electricity generation infrastructure.”

Nersa on Tuesday confirmed that it has received Cosatu’s submission to this effect.

“We have received a written submission from Cosatu and we will be looking at it,” spokesperson Charles Hlebela said.

Hlebela said all written submissions, including those made at the public hearings, would be considered in totality when the regulator makes a decision.

Asked about Cosatu’s unhappiness at the cancellation of public hearings in three provinces due to “lack of interest”, Hlebela said they had asked those presenters to make submissions

The hearings move to Kimberly on Wednesday and Gauteng on 4 and 5 February.