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Solidarity sends list of 300 power experts to Gordhan and Eskom after plea for help

An Eskom coal fired power station as the sun rises near Johannesburg, South Africa, 04 April 2015. Image, EPA, KIM LUDBROOK.

An Eskom coal fired power station as the sun rises near Johannesburg, South Africa, 04 April 2015. Image, EPA, KIM LUDBROOK.

Published Aug 4, 2022

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Trade union Solidarity has responded to Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan’s plea for help in finding skilled staff to help fix the crisis at South Africa’s embattled power utility, Eskom.

Earlier this year in July, Gordhan wrote to the union, seeking help in sorting out the skills crisis at the power utility.

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Solidarity said it sent its list of skilled power experts to Gordhan and Eskom CEO André de Ruyter on Thursday.

According to Solidarity, the approximately 300 experts on its shortlist have around 5 500 years of combined experience in the industry, and they also have more than 400 accredited qualifications of which 14 are doctorate degrees in engineering and related fields.

“This list contains some of the country’s leading experts in the field of power. We are astonished, not only by the wealth of expertise and knowledge these individuals offer, but also by their willingness and eagerness to tackle South Africa’s power crisis,” explained Solidarity Chief Executive Dr Dirk Hermann.

Minister Pravin Gordhan. Picture: Bongani Shilubane.

“Among them are also numerous persons who work as qualified international project managers, and they are also internationally sought-after specialists in their field.”

Solidarity explains that since the announcement of a list of power experts, the organisation has been inundated with more than a thousand requests from various experts and former Eskom employees, but that in consultation with specialists, and based on the most urgent issues at Eskom, it has shortened the list.

“At the moment, the main problem area in our power grid lies with generation, and for this reason, the largest percentage (around 70%) of the experts on our list are involved in generation, while 16% can be involved in distribution, 6% in transmission and around 8% of the experts offer commercial, management and other skills,” Hermann said.

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Solidarity said that Eskom must be stabilised as soon as possible, and these specialists have the knowledge and skills to make this happen. According to Solidarity, it is of the utmost importance that all stakeholders buy into this and recognise the extent of the crisis.

Embattled Eskom Group Chief Executive (GCE) André de Ruyter. File picture: Sumaya Hisham/Reuters

“The current crisis at Eskom, which causes suffering to all South Africans, and which threatens our entire economy, is too extensive for a single party, including the state, to solve on its own. A functioning Eskom is crucially important, both for employees within the organisation and for employees throughout the South African economy. The pressure is now on the government to muster the necessary political will to enable these experts to save Eskom,” Hermann concluded.

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