Union slams Eskom’s load reduction policy as ’racist'
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THE NATIONAL Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has criticised some of Eskom’s policies, describing the implementation of load reduction as “racist” and affecting African people
This comes after the power utility’s chief executive, André de Ruyter, failed to meet with union leaders yesterday.
Several unions, including the NUM, had asked to meet De Ruyter to try to understand the company’s turnaround strategy and financial model, among other issues.
However, the meeting could not take place because of a clash in schedules of those who were supposed to attend. The meeting has been moved to May 17.
“We want the most recent strategic direction of the company. We want that so that when we negotiate on the salary we do it with the knowledge of how the company is doing financially. So, we want them to take us into confidence and tell us if the company is making money. If they are not making money, they must tell us because we can help them,” the union’s Khangela Baloyi said.
Baloyi said some of the policies being implemented by Eskom were concerning, especially the load reduction policy that was mainly affecting townships and under-privileged areas. The load reduction policy affected areas with high electricity theft and those where there was a culture of non-payment.
“We condemn load reduction because it happens in poor areas and mostly where African people stay. We are calling on the government to tell Eskom to stop that – it’s economic apartheid.”
Baloyi said the NUM was concerned with the failure of Eskom to collect revenue from municipalities that owed the struggling state-owned entity money. He said Eskom could not be allowed to fail because of its importance to the country’s economy.
“We believe they must tell us what the problems are, but one of the problems is the independent power producers, and the other problem is the price of coal. The coal price is very high, they are being ripped off by big coal producers. The government must intervene,” said Baloyi.
He said he was confident that Eskom could be turned around with minimum interference from politicians but said it was important for the utility to fulfil its social mandate.
Eskom spokesperson Sikonathi Mantshantsha confirmed that Eskom’s chief executive would be meeting with the unions.