The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) has rejected the announced tariff increase that the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) granted power supplier Eskom.
Nersa last week approved electricity hikes of 9.41 percent, 8.1 percent and 5.2 percent for the next three financial years, far below Eskom’s application for 17.1 percent for 2019/20, 15.4 percent for 2020/21 and 15.5 percent for 2021/22.
Including the 4.4 percent increase previously approved, the current hike will total 13.81 percent for 2019/20.
According to Numsa, any increase in electricity tariffs, no matter how small, would be “disastrous for the working class and the poor who are already unable to afford electricity at its current rate.”
In the view of the union, the tariff increases would also deepen the crisis for industries, particularly small to medium businesses, likely leading to retrenchments.
Numsa blamed an agreement signed with Independent Power Producers (IPPs) for Eskom’s tariff hikes.
The union said it was also concerned that the introduction of IPPs would lead to the shutdown of some coal-fired power stations in Mpumalanga, resulting in huge job losses.
The union indicated that it was not opposed to renewable energy, but rather it wanted “the working class” to define South Africa’s renewable energy programme.
“It must be socially-owned,” the workers’ body said.
It added: “We will intensify our mobilisation in communities and all members of the working class to reject this tariff increase, the IPPs and government plans to privatise Eskom through unbundling.”
President Cyril Ramaphosa said in answer to questions in Parliament on Thursday, 7 March 2019, that, contrary to what the union has claimed, restructuring Eskom would not result in the privatisation of the power utility.