This is how many people South Africa’s biggest state-owned companies employ

Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan has released new data outlining the number of employees currently working at South Africa’s biggest state-owned companies.

Responding in a recent parliamentary Q&A session Gordhan said that the top employer is rail, port and pipeline company Transnet with 56,718 employees.

It is closely followed by embattled power utility Eskom which currently has 45,982 employees.

By comparison, state-owned companies such as South African Airways (5,256) and defence company Denel (3,438) have comparatively fewer employees.

Company name Segment Number of employees
Transnet Transport 56 718
Eskom Energy 45 982
South African Airways Airline 5 256
Denel Defence 3 438
Safcol Forestry 2 396
SA Express Airline 711
Alexkor Mining 331

Wage bill

Government has acknowledged that it’s wage bill has ballooned out of control and is now having a direct impact on the economy.

“Spending pressures continue to mount, led by the public service wage bill and state-owned companies in crisis, said finance minister Tito Mboweni in his mini-budget on Wednesday (30 October)

“The 2019 MTBPS proposes an approach over the medium term that, effectively implemented, will restore the momentum of economic growth and stabilise the public finances,” the minister said.

However, government is likely to face backlash should it decide to freeze wages or cut jobs.

In an interview with Beeld, Eskom chief operating officer Jan Oberholzer says that retrenchments are currently not an option for the embattled power utility because of the high additional costs involved and potential harm to the economy.

Oberholzer said that job cuts would save Eskom approximately R7 billion a year.

However, he said there are additional costs that need to be paid out to retrenched workers – such as severance packages – which Eskom cannot afford.

Oberholzer said that job cuts of between 10,000 – 15,000 would also cause significant damage to the lagging economy. Bloomberg first reported a figure of 15,000 potential lay-offs at the state company in July 2018.

Despite these potential problems, he acknowledged that Eskom’s output was below par considering the size of its workforce.

“When I resigned from Eskom 11 years ago, the power giant had slightly more than 30,000 people in service and our productivity was better than it is now,” he said.

“Today we work with close to 44,000 employees and also pay for contractors. So something is not right.”


Read: Eskom woes have no end in sight as bailout bill mounts

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This is how many people South Africa’s biggest state-owned companies employ