JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) on Thursday delivered memorandums at the Arnot, Komati and Duvha power stations, setting out their grievances over State-owned power provider Eskom’s decommissioning plan, which will see it close five power stations over five years, threatening 6 000 direct power station jobs and thousands of mining and transport jobs.
The parastatal took the decision in light of its commitments to independent power producers (IPPs), with Eskom interim CEO Matshela Koko noting earlier this week that “something has to give”.
“We are vehemently opposed to the Eskom board’s decision to close down the five power stations,” NUM said in a statement, noting that its members would be demonstrating at the power stations.
The coal-fired power stations in Eskom’s crosshairs include Camden, Grootvlei, Kriel, Hendrina and Komati.
This decision is a reversal of Eskom’s previous fleet renewal strategy to extend the life of the stations by a further ten years and is likely to lead to impairments by Eskom, owing to the fact that some of these stations were recently returned to service, having previously been mothballed.
Meanwhile, NUM’s PWV region, in Gauteng, called for the resignation of Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown and the Eskom board, led by Ben Ngubane.
“We view this decision as senseless, irrational and malicious. It is a decision that is only aimed at pursuing narrow and selfish business interests [through] poor leadership . . . keeping workers and trade union leaders in the dark,” the regional office said.
Further, it noted that while it was mindful of the need to deal with climate change, “IPPs cannot be implemented at the expense of massive job losses [and] the poverty that will confront the surrounding communities,” it said.
The regional office further called on Koko to “stop making pronouncements” about the closure of the power stations, as he was “undermining the [organisation’s] legitimate consultative structures”.
“Koko’s apology about his failure to engage trade unions is unacceptable. Workers will not rest until Eskom and government reverse this ill-informed decision,” it stated.