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Eskom wants to get rid of another 500 white maintenance staff, says trade union Solidarity

Business Report logo Business Report 2023/01/26 Ashley Lechman
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In the midst of South Africa’s worst energy crisis in history, trade union Solidarity says ailing state power utility Eskom, wants to to get rid of another 500 white males by 2025, mainly persons who are responsible for maintenance work.

The union said in a statement on Thursday this was according to Eskom’s latest race plan for 2023 to 2025.

In a letter issued by Solidarity's legal team addressed to Eskom, it said it asked for a moratorium on race-based appointments at Eskom as a measure to help address the power crisis.

Solidarity said it pointed out that there was an urgent need in South Africa for the deployment of best skills in jobs, regardless of race.

“There are competent black and white artisans at Eskom and out there and those are the people Eskom should recruit based on their ability to help solve the power crisis and without looking at the colour of their skin. Solidarity also reserves the right to go to court should Eskom continue with the implementation of its race targets,” the union said in a statement.

“We do not see in the plan that Eskom is making plans to address its skills challenges. This plan is all about skin colour at the various job levels,” Solidarity Chief Executive Dr Dirk Hermann, said.

“Eskom has just announced a huge tariff increase but instead of addressing its skills problem, Eskom is only paying attention to race targets.

“These absurd race targets come amid the fact that power station maintenance is one of Eskom’s major challenges. Eskom should now focus on one thing only, and that is not race, but power. South Africans do not need race targets but light in their homes and power for their businesses,” Hermann explained.

“Targets such as these discourage existing staff members and also imply that competent white persons cannot apply for jobs to help solve the crisis. Also, it makes it nearly impossible to appoint some of the hundreds of experts who have offered their services to assist Eskom because they have the wrong skin colour.”

Solidarity further said Eskom had a long history of having an aggressive race policy.

Between 1994 and 2002, 10 207 whites left Eskom.

From about 2000 Eskom has paid R1.8 billion in terms of current rand value for packages to get rid of white people.

This rapid loss of skills led to a huge loss of expertise and institutional knowledge.

“Eskom has learnt nothing from this. It is still pursuing its race programme, even in the dark,” Hermann said.

Solidarity is also preparing for a court case to get Eskom exempted from black economic empowerment requirements.

According to Solidarity, black economic empowerment is costing Eskom billions and a tariff increase would not have been necessary if Eskom did not have to meet all the racial requirements involved in procurement.


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