Eskom hikes to fuel gravy train

2013-01-26 00:00

CAPE TOWN — The average annual salary for Eskom employees is expected to be R820 000 by 2017/18.

This would bring Eskom’s salary bill to R37 billion, for 45 600 employees.

This is one of the reasons Eskom has applied for an annual increase of 16% each year for five years.

The information is contained in Eskom submissions to the National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa).

According to Eskom, this year (2013/14), the average salary will be R633 000.

Eskom says the increased salary bill is necessitated by its new power stations, and the need to attract and retain more skilled employees.

On inquiry, Eskom spokesperson Hilary Joffe did not deny the figures.

Numsa deputy secretary-general Karl Cloete said its members who work for Eskom don’t earn anywhere near these salaries.

“We want to see who is being paid so much that the average is so high. We know that Eskom’s top management have received huge bonuses and increases over the past decade.”

Cloete warned in a submission by the metalworkers’ union that should Nersa grant Eskom’s desired increase, 37% of companies which are big electricity users would be forced to close.

“Tens of thousands of workers’ jobs are threatened,” he said.

Agriculture and mining organisations agree that the proposed increases would lead to job losses.

Economists are also concerned. Chris Hart, of Investment Solutions, said no private sector company in South Africa could pay such high salaries.

“That is an average of $100 000 per employee per year, and in American terms, that would be very good.”

Hart said high salaries, which have become a hallmark of Eskom, are a sign of a group that does not have costs under control.

According to the 2011 census, the average household income in South Africa is about R103 204.

Miners at Lonmin’s Marikana operation were demanding R12 500 a month (R150 000 a year), while Cape farm workers went on strike for R150 a day (R54 750 a year).

Mike Schüssler of economists.co.za recently told Sake24 that the typical worker in South Africa earns R2 900 a month.

Nersa is expected to announce Eskom’s permitted tariff increase on February 28.

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