The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) will be marching with the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) on Saturday to protest against retrenchments at Eskom, the closure of coal mines as well as governments renewable energy program, the Independent Power Producer Project (IPP).
From the time we learned of governments plans to finalize the IPP contracts in March this year, we raised the alarm, and attempted to interdict the Department of Energy. We were aware of the dangers posed by this project and we fought valiantly, to convince the courts to block the finalization of the contracts. Our position on this issue has not changed. We remain vehemently opposed to the IPP program. What we are calling for is a Just Transition from coal to renewable energy. A Just Transition is one where the transition from coal to renewable energy does not negatively affect workers and the community at large, and, it must not disadvantage the next generation. Instead the transition we are experiencing will worsen the conditions for the working class.
THE BATTLE TO SAVE ESKOM IS A BATTLE FOR OUR SURVIVAL.
NUMSA is aware that there are some who might wonder why we have taken the decision to march with the NUM. Especially as the NUM is a member of COSATU, a federation which expelled us for withdrawing our support for the ANC. NUM has not hidden the fact that it supports Cyril Ramaphosa, who we view as an enemy of the working class. It is always important that for us, as a Marxist-Leninist inspired trade union, to identify the class interests of any situation.
We are participating in this march because we believe it is consistent with our commitment to advancing the interests of the working class. Furthermore, we believe that when the working class is united around a common vision, it can be a motive force for change, and can radically transform society in in its own interests. The challenges facing workers at Eskom, affect us all, regardless of union affiliation. It is in our class interests to unite and fight back against this vicious attack by the state on the working class. This is a battle for our survival and this is why we believe that unity of the working class on this issue is paramount.
NUMSA will be marching over this and other important issues affecting workers at Eskom including the following:
- The IPP’s are designed to collapse Eskom! It costs Eskom 40 c per kWh to produce electricity through nuclear, and the cost of coal is less than R1. But Eskom pays R2,22 from IPP’s which it then sells to the consumer at 85c. what kind of nonsensical, impractical arrangement is this? It is obvious that the state is deliberately trying to collapse Eskom! It is our duty as the working class to defend this valuable SOE. Eskom should go back to its mandate of ensuring that the entire nation is electrified. It should be providing free electricity for all, and affordable electricity for industry.
- The IPP’s will result in at least 92 thousand jobs being lost! In order to accommodate the IPP program the state must close five cola fired power stations in Mpumalanga. This will have a devastating impact on the local economy of the province, as its industries depend on the existence of the power stations.
- We reject calls for privatization of Eskom and State Owned Enterprises (SOE’s)! We have noted disturbing comments made by members of the governing party, and in particular the Finance minister Tito Mboweni who calls for the restructuring of SOE’s and in particular, the configuration of Eskom. Mboweni proposed in his Medium Term Budget Policy Statement, that Eskom should be broken up, by separating different units, namely, generation, transmission and distribution. We reject privatization as it will mean that that electricity costs will skyrocket, making electricity less accessible to the poor and working class, and, increasing the cost of doing business.
- We reject retrenchments! The working class is under attack from the governing party. Whilst it is true that many SOE’s are in financial crisis, these are problems which were deliberately created to destroy the capacity of the SOE’s in order to pursue an agenda to privatize SOE’s. Eskom was a victim of gross mismanagement, and looting by some senior executive managers and the board. But instead of them taking responsibility, Eskom management, together with the government, are punishing workers for their failures. The sale of SOE’s is another way for the ANC and its capitalist cronies to benefit financially, at the expense of the working class.
The march will take place on Saturday, 17th November. We will gather at Burgers Park in Pretoria at 11:00 am.
No retreat, no surrender!
Issued by Irvin Jim
NUMSA General Secretary
For more information, please contact:
NUMSA National Spokesperson