South Africa’s Largest Union NUMSA Mobilizes Against Electricity Price Hike

PRETORIA, The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA), the largest single trade union in the country, has demanded the Power Purchase Agreements (PPA’s) be set aside on the grounds that the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA) authorized the agreements without proper public consultation.

NUMSA’s latest statement comes after the proposals for nuclear energy were challenged by Earthlife and the South African Faith Communities Environment Institute. This was one of the proposals we are making to NERSA today which is hearing submissions from stakeholders on Eskoms request for a 45% tariff increase over three years.

This week, members of NUM and NUMSA staged a lunchtime picket at Eskom’s headquarters in Johannesburg, South Africa, to protest against the Independent Power Producer program. Nersa is holding nationwide hearings into the application by Eskom, a South African electricity public utility, for a 45 percent electricity tariff increase over the next three years.

One need only examine the Renewable Energy project endorsed by the government, the IPP program for evidence of the states blatant disregard for the working class and the poor, Irvin Jim wrote in a recent op-ed for teleSUR. Eskom’s own studies, showed that if it continued with the project it would lead to the closure of five power stations, and the loss of one hundred thousand jobs.

This will deepen the crisis of unemployment and poverty in a country where the expanded unemployment rate is 37 percent, and more than half the population lives in abject poverty, he added.

The IPP agreements had been signed without a social plan in place for the province of Mpumalanga, for instance, whose economy is dependent on the existence of coal-fired power stations.

If energy prices go up, it will mean the costs of all basic goods, food, transportation, etc, will also go up and this will worsen conditions for the poor and the working class, NUMSA President Andrew Chirwa said in a statement.

We also reject that Eskom should be broken up and privatized in order for its problems to be solved. We maintain that privatization will result in higher energy costs for the consumer, thus making electricity even more inaccessible to the poor and the working class. Privatization results in massive job shedding and it must be rejected.

The union’s Phakamile Hlubi-Majola says granting the request by Eskom will only worsen the living conditions of the working class and the poor.

Our economy which is not growing, will suffer even more and we are calling on Nersa to do the right thing, she said.

Source: Nam News Network