‘We have Eskom’s racial plan in front of us’

Solidarity says it has Eskom’s racial reform plan on paper, despite Public Enterprises Minister Lynn Brown saying that the group will not sack 3,000 white workers over the next five years.

This is according to statements and documents from both parties received by the workers union.

“Either Brown or Eskom is [being] dishonest about Eskom’s objectives regarding racial numbers for its staff,” the union said in a statement on Wednesday (8 April).

According to Solidarity, Brown denied that Eskom wanted to get rid of more than 3,000 white staff members within the next five years.

Solidarity quoted Brown saying that Eskom should transform, but that it was not going to happen as the group needs the expertise and skills of experienced employees.

However, Piet le Roux, head of the Solidarity Research Institute, said that Eskom maintained to Solidarity that white employees would be disproportionately reduced in accordance with it’s five year target.

“We have Eskom’s racial plan on paper in front of us. In the first year of Eskom’s racial plan, the company plans to reduce its white employees by 1,080, a 14% decrease in the number of white employees compared with a planned 4.8% decrease in the number of employees of other racial groups.”

“It seems that Eskom harbours similar plans for the following four years and that thousands of white employees will eventually be gone after five years,” Le Roux said.

The Solidarity spokesperson said up to now, Eskom has given no indication that the company would abandon its racial targets.

“In reaction to a recent letter from Solidarity, Eskom once again confirmed that it considered the strict implementation of racial transformation to be non-negotiable, and that the company, upon instruction of Labour Director General Thobile Lamati, awarded race the highest priority in its appointment targets,” he said.

Meanwhile, power shortages in South Africa as a result of an ongoing crisis at Eskom has curbed economic growth by as much as 10%, while also preventing mass employment opportunities, according to chief economist at Efficient Group, Dawie Roodt.

Roodt said that the country’s estimated economic expansion of 2% this year could have been at least 1 percentage point higher had it not been for load shedding, and that the economy could have been about 10% bigger than it actually was by the end of 2014, had the power situation been stable.

“That is more than 300 billion rand ($25.3 billion), or more than a million job opportunities,” the economist said.

A presentation by the department of public enterprises to parliament at the end of March said that power cuts implemented by Eskom cost South Africa’s economy between $1.7 billion (R20 billion) and $6.8 billion (R80.1 billion) a month.

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‘We have Eskom’s racial plan in front of us’