Union threatens power cuts if Eskom is split into three

In protest against government’s plan to divide Eskom into three units, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) is threatening to strike in an effort to trigger country-wide blackouts.

“It is the only weapon that we have as a trade union,” NUM president Joseph Montisetsi said in an interview with SAfm on Thursday morning.

NUM reportedly has 15,000 members who are Eskom employees, while it also has a large number of coal mineworkers, who could also strike and disrupt deliveries to power stations.

On Tuesday, public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan announced that Eskom will be divided into three arms - distribution, transmission and generation – which will all remain functional subsidiaries of an Eskom holding company, but with separate boards and CEOs.

Transmission will be the first to be separated out, but it will remain a Eskom holding company.

Montisetsi objects against the creation of three new boards, with three CEOs, which will increase costs. This will mean that the Eskom group will have four boards - for the three units plus the holding company. He said that this will add to Eskom's cash flow crisis, which was caused by the “Guptas (who) came in and ripped off Eskom”.

“Boards are not for mahala. This is unfair.” 


Meanwhile, NUM members will march to Glencore’s offices in Witbank on Friday. NUM is accusing the mining and commodity trading giant of unfair dismissal of workers, as well as neglecting to providing workers with good housing and living conditions

"If nothing positives come out of this peaceful march tomorrow the NUM will mobilise its members in the whole province of Mpumalanga to embark on a full-blown strike. The union is perturbed by how Glencore treats NUM members and workers in general," said Tshilidzi Mathavha, NUM Highveld Regional Secretary.

Glencore confirmed to Fin24 that it is aware of the protest march by NUM members on 1 November 2019 in Witbank. 

The Company has ongoing engagements at various levels with NUM and will continue to discuss matters of common interest with unions and to engage on any concerns raised.

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