NUMSA’s response to Metal Pension Fund investment in renewable energy

As the majority union in the metals and engineering sector, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) notes the decision by the Metal Industries Benefit Funds Administrators (MIBFA), to commit up to R1 billion of investment in the renewable energy sector.

It shows that unions such as NUMSA are committed to a move from fossil fuel –intensive economies and are serious about mitigation on global warming.

For the last two years NUMSA has been involved in attempts to influence policies that relate to renewable energy and convened an international conference on renewables in February 2012.

As a union we are convinced of the potential of renewable energy – if structured properly – to address energy inequality and poverty and lead to alternative forms of industrialisation.

We have been in the forefront of calls for socially-owned renewable energy sector and are critical of the private-sector driven Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Programme (REIPPP) that the Department of Energy (DoE) drives.

The DoE programme fails to compel the IPPs to source locally-produced equipment as its local content requirements can be met through civil works and construction.

“As a union we have been calling for a socially-owned renewable energy sector where renewable energy generating companies will be cooperatives, municipal-owned farm winds, energy parastatals and energy community trusts. By setting the R1-billion for renewable NUMSA trustees within MIBFA are putting workers money where the union mouth is”, say union General Secretary Irvin Jim.

When dealing with investment in the renewable sector NUMSA trustees will be guided by the union’s resolution on building a socially-owned renewable sector and will not use workers’ money to enrich private investors in the form of Independent Power Producers (IPPs) who see the sector as a new site of accumulation and are less concerned about the transition to a low-carbon economy.

In line with its policy on building a socially-owned renewable energy sector, NUMSA is in the course of training its trustees on alternative financing for renewable energy in line with its policy adopted at its 09th national congress adopted in June 2012.

Castro Ngobese, National Spokesperson – 081 011 1137