Eskom is planning to cut around 7,000 jobs at the state power utility by 2023, Reuters reports, quoting senior manager, Marion Hughes.
“Eskom intends to reduce headcount from 48,678 to 41,613 by 2023 across all levels through normal attrition,” Hughes reportedly said in a strategy presentation.
The group currently employs around 48,000 workers, in what has been described by analysts as a bloated workforce that is costing the group millions each year, which it cannot afford.
The company has found itself in a rut with its dealings with workers and unions in recent months, where it has been struggling to conclude wage talks, after agreeing to give unionised employees a 7.5% wage hike in 2018, along with a R10,000 bonus.
This wage offer was up from the 0% the power utility initially offered, due to its financial issues.
While unions have agreed in principle to the wage increases, they refuse to conclude dealings while Eskom threatens to take disciplinary action against their members who embarked on illegal strikes while negotiations were ongoing.
Because Eskom is considered an essential service, workers are not legally allowed to strike. However, employees disregarded that fact, and also allegedly sabotaged and interrupted power supplies, which forced the company to reintroduce load shedding.
According to media reports this week, Eskom now faces even more labour issues as the next band of employees is now looking for the same deal as the unions.
Eskom chairman Jabu Mabuza recently told media that Eskom has “33% more people than was necessary”, echoing analysts and energy experts who say the group is grossly overstaffed.
Energy expert Ted Blom, said that Eskom is overstaffed by as many as 30,000 employees, with the utility only needing 14,000 to operate, while currently employing close to 48,000 people. The 30,000 Eskom workers are also four times over-paid compared to global averages, he said.
“If we get everything cleaned up at Eskom like we should, we could sacrifice 30,000 jobs at Eskom and create three million more,” Blom said.
The newly reported 7,000 cuts is less than half of the 15,000 job cuts the power utility was reportedly looking at in July.
In its latest financial results, Eskom reported a loss after tax of R2.3 billion for the year ended March 2018, from a profit of R900 million 12 months earlier. Sales declined 0.9%, while its gearing ratio, which measures debt relative to equity, went to 72% from 68%