NUMSA Eskom Plan of Action!

The National Union of Metalworkers (NUMSA) of South Africa is gearing up for the mother of all strikes in its bid to fight the looming crisis at Eskom.
Last week the power utility announced that it will be shutting down several power stations in Mpumalanga because it had an oversupply of electricity. The closure of these plants is also to make way for Independent Power Producer’s (IPP’s) which the government has committed itself to.
The CEO of Eskom confirmed through the media that these changes will result in at least thirty thousand people losing their jobs, not just in Eskom, but in related sectors as well!
As NUMSA we cannot simply sit back and allow Eskom, and this government to destroy the livelihoods of thousands of workers and their families. In an environment where there are high levels of poverty and escalating unemployment, we believe that every job counts.
NUMSA is challenging Eskom’s view that there is surplus electricity. The truth of the matter is that electricity has become extremely expensive because of price drivers, in particular coal. Also, what Eskom perceives as surplus energy is due to the closure of many companies which were unable to afford the high cost of electricity. In essence Eskom is directly responsible for high levels of de-industrialization.
Closure of Eskom power stations is senseless and reckless
In fact, we are convinced that this reckless, senseless move to close the power stations, as well as the introduction of the IPP program is a calculated move to privatise Eskom and to create conditions for the introduction of the new nuclear program in South Africa.
Currently, Eskom pays 35c per kilowatt from its coal fired power stations, but they intend to pay the astronomical price of R2.41 per kilowatt to the IPP’s for the supply of electricity! This will undoubtedly have a negative impact on all South Africans who are already struggling to pay for electricity. The introduction of IPP’s will result in the cost of electricity going up.
Many households can’t even afford electricity at the current rate, and yet this government has endorsed this bizarre policy! What government and Eskom should be addressing is how to nationalize coal and guarranttee quality coal supply to the national grid, but instead they are cutting jobs.
For the last 23 years the ANC government has pursued disastrous macroeconomic policies which are responsible for high unemployment and poverty levels. At least a
quarter of the South African population is unemployed, and it is clear that for the last two decades the ANC’s priority has been to enable White monopoly capital to continue to reap benefits, at the expense of the poor African working class majority. Workers are suffering everyday. Those who are fortunate enough to still be working can barely survive on their meagre earnings, whilst the majority are languishing in poverty, caused by unemployment.
Whilst NUMSA is not against a progressive energy mix and a movement at some point away from fossil fuels to renewable energy, we are not prepared to sacrifice existing jobs, and therefore human lives, to achieve this goal. This government has failed to industrialise the country and create an economy that can shift workers who are involved in fossil fuels, into a modern economy powered by renewables.
NUMSA is calling for a National Shut Down
NUMSA is the largest metalworkers union in South Africa and the continent. We have 350 000 workers and we are represented in numerous sectors, including mining, transportation, and energy. In light of the national crisis of job losses in the energy sector, we will mobilise in all sectors, to implement a National Shut Down of all services. We will bring this economy to its knees.
We will mobilise communities to hold demonstrations and pickets because this crisis affects them too. It is clear to us that this programme is not only premature, but foolish as it will result in the destruction of our communities, and ultimately it will destroy any hope of us tackling inequality in South Africa. For the last two decades the ANC has simply sustained and defended the growth of wealth of the already filthy rich small, mostly white elite section of the population.
NUMSA is also calling for an urgent meeting with the ministers of Energy, Public Enterprises and the Department of Mineral Resources. We are calling on the provincial leadership of the Mpumalanga Province, including its municipalities to participate. We will also be engaging in bilateral meetings with all employers in the affected sectors, including coal, and trucking companies.
NUMSA calling on patriotic South Africans to defend jobs and save the economy
NUMSA has approached the leadership of the NUM (National Union of Mineworkers) on how we can combine forces against our common enemy, the exploitative and parasitic structures of white monopoly capital.
We are of the view that we should set aside our differences, combine forces and defend workers jobs. We need to meet urgently to strategize and fight the ANC which clearly has an agenda to destroy jobs. We have no choice, we must unite and fight them. NUMSA calls on all patriotic South Africans, employed or unemployed, young and old who care about the future of this country, to mobilize behind this campaign. We are fighting for the right to be able to live a dignified life and to be able to support our families and develop our communities.
We must organise or starve!
Issued by Irvin Jim,
NUMSA General Secretary