Electricity pylons and cooling towers at Lethabo Thermal Power Station, an Eskom coal-burning power station near Sasolburg in the Free State. Picture: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters/African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town - The unbundling of Eskom has ruffled some feathers with the unions warning they will not take the decision lying down.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced in his State of the Nation Address on Thursday that Eskom will be split into three entities, one for generation, the other one for transmission and the third for distribution.

But unions were up in arms yesterday warning that they will fight this decision.

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) said the decision was a way to privatisation. They said this will lead to the loss of thousands of job.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) also warned that this was the privatisation of Eskom. It said thousands of jobs would be lost.

“The NUM is against any attempt to unbundle Eskom. It is the privatisation of Eskom to enrich the elites. It is not about saving costs.

“We, therefore, call upon the government to reconsider its position because it is anti-working class and the poor. It will result in electricity being expensive and it will be unaffordable to the poor,” it said.

“The NUM is going to fight tooth and nail against the unbundling of Eskom,” it added.

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) also criticised the government’s decision to unbundle Eskom.

It said it was not the first time the idea of splitting Eskom was raised.

They rejected it many years ago, and they were going to fight it to the end.

“Nehawu strongly rejects any attempts to unbundle Eskom from a vertically integrated state entity into three separate companies as we fought this in the late 1990s and will multiply our efforts against this agenda again.”

Nehawu urged Ramaphosa to consult widely on the matter to avoid taking short-term solutions.

It said they reject the unbundling of the power utility.

The SACP said it noted the announcement. “Retrenchments of workers should be avoided, in addition to ensuring Eskom, in its entirety, remains a publicly owned productive asset.”

But the DA welcomed the decision.

Spokesperson on public enterprises Natasha Mazzone said this did not get far enough as Eskom would still have three boards accounting to the holding company. She said there will still be influence in the board structure.

Business Unity South Africa said it welcomed the turnaround implemented by the government on Eskom. It said it was willing to work with the government to deal with challenges facing state-owned enterprises.

Political Bureau