Hospersa slams proposal to use pension funds to bail out Eskom
Cape Town - Yet another union has added its voice to the call against government using funds from the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF) to bail out ailing electricity provider, Eskom.
Last week, trade union group Cosatu proposed that the state-owned asset manager, the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) and local development finance institutions help to lower Eskom debt by around R250 billion, by using GEFP funds.
Previously, the call by Cosatu to cut Eskom’s debt to R200 billion from R454 billion by using the employees’ money was opposed by the Federation of Unions of South Africa (Fedusa) and the Public Servants Association of South Africa (PSA).
Health and Other Services Personnel Trade Union of South Africa (Hospersa), expressed their shock at the proposal.
Voicing its opposition to the plan that has also been slammed in several quarters, Hospersa general secretary, Noel Desfontaines said for the majority of employees in the public service, the pension fund was their only investment for the future.
"To use the fund to bailout state owned entities especially those plagued with alleged corruption and maladministration would be reckless,” Desfontaines said.
He added that as a union with members who are civil servants, they have written to the chairperson of GEPF board, Dr Renosi Mokate to express their concerns over the proposal.
“In the letter, we have reminded the chairperson and the board of trustees of its core responsibility to manage and administer pensions as well as other benefits for government employees as governed by the government employees pension law. We also placed on record that we will oppose any attempt to use the funds from our members’ retirement savings to provide assistance to Eskom or any other state owned enterprise,” added Desfontaines.
Desfontaines went to the extent of even threatening to use all available avenues to fight the proposal should the GEPF yield to the proposal by Cosatu.
“We requested the GEPF board to not keep us in the dark with any investment proposals submitted to it to bail out Eskom. We also vowed to take the board to task at all our available avenues should it fail to reject any Eskom proposal in order to protect our members’ pension savings,” he said.
Despite the wrangling over the proposal, on Friday last week the fund informed its members, pensioners and beneficiaries that it has not received the Eskom proposal nor has it been consulted.
“If the GEPF is approached with a proposal that requires investing in Eskom, such a proposal will be considered on its merits in the best interests of members, pensioners and beneficiaries,” the fund said in the statement.
The union claims to have a membership of 50 000 and represents employees in the public service as well as in the private sector.