Numsa says Eskom can produce electricity very cheaply at less than 50c per kilowatt hour through coal. Photo: IOL

CAPE TOWN – The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) is demanding that the Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) that were signed with the Independent Power Producers must be set aside on the grounds that the National Energy Regulator (Nersa) authorised the agreements without proper public consultation. 

Numsa said in a statement that the lack of proper public consultation was part of the reason that the proposals for nuclear were challenged by Earthlife and the South African Faith Communities Environment Institute. “This was one of the proposals we are making to Nersa today which is hearing submissions from stakeholders on Eskom’s request for a 45 percent tariff increase over three years.”

The union said as the largest trade union in South Africa, and a recognised union at Eskom, it rejects any request for a tariff increase. 

“It is not in the interests of the working class majority and the poor for Eskom to be granted an increase. If energy prices go up, it will mean the costs of all basic goods, food, transportation, etc, will also go up and this will worsen conditions for the poor and the working class. 

“This will also affect small and medium firms negatively as the high cost of Energy will impact negatively on the bottom line, resulting massive job losses,” the union said.

The union said IPP’s were costly and they were part of the reason that Eskom was hugely in debt today. Furthermore, IPP’s would result in the loss of at least 100 000 jobs because of the closure of coal plants in Mpumalanga. 

Eskom pays R2.20 per kilowatt hour for electricity, and then it sells it to the market at 86c per kilowatt hour. Eskom can produce electricity very cheaply at less than 50c per kilowatt hour through coal.

“We also reject that Eskom should be broken up and privatised in order for its problems to be solved. We maintain that privatisation will result in higher energy costs for the consumer, thus making electricity even more inaccessible to the poor and the working class. Privatisation results in massive job shedding and it must be rejected,” the union said.

Numsa joined members of the community, the Soweto Action Committee and the United Front in demonstrating against any increase in the tariff. “We will continue to mobilise the working class to reject high energy costs, and also to fight against IPP’s and privatisation of Eskom, as we have been doing.”

BUSINESS REPORT