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Press Statement, 29 March 2017

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Press Statement, 29 March 2017

1.     Independent Power Producers

The National Union of Mineworkers observed with grave concern the announcement by the State President in his 2017 State of the Nation Address that Eskom must fast track the signing of agreements with the Independent Power Producers. At the time of this announcement, theNUM was not aware of the real impact of the statement. Within a few weeks of the President’s speech, there was pressure on Eskom from all corners, including some Cabinet Ministers to sign agreements with IPPs.

We have come to realise that signing agreements with these IPPs mean that Eskom has to close some of its power stations that generate electricity in order to make space for the electricity that they are compelled to buy from IPPs. Eskom has to buy electricity from IPPs at a very high price and sell it at a very low price. This definitely means that in the near future Eskom will be bankrupt. For now, the tax payer through government subsidy is paying the difference between the price at which Eskom buys from the IPPs and Eskom’s selling price to the public. With Eskom having to buy electricity from the IPPs, they find themselves having to close five power stations which translate to about 10 000 direct job losses only in the Power Stations and further 40 000 individuals that might be without jobs in the surroundings of these Power Stations. The most worrying factor is that, the affected workers are those in low-income jobs who happen to be our members as the NUM.

The job losses will definitely be more than three times the anticipated figures (10 000 and 40 000 respectively) if one considers the mines that supply coal to those five power stations and other service providers. We are not sure whether the President of the country did take a conscious decision to throw so many people into the pool of unemployed or was the President misled on the impact of the signing of agreements with IPPs.

The major questions we are having as NUM is; who stands to benefit out of these IPP agreements? Actually, who are these IPPs? Has the ANC government abandoned the workers who, after all, form a huge chunk of the people who put it in power? Are we being told, as workers that we no longer matter and those who matter most are the few who stand to benefit from IPP agreements? Is this an open letter that says the honeymoon is over? The ANC must come out clean. Their silence would mean they agree that Eskom should be privatised through the back door and they don’t care about the workers’ “dirty” votes.

We call upon the government to review this decision with immediate effect and avert the loss of so many jobs. We will embark on rolling mass action to defend our Eskom from being run down so that by the time it is a burden to the government it is sold for a cent. We call upon all South Africans to join NUM and come to the rescue of Eskom for the benefit of future generations. This is not radical economic transformation, but the stealing of public property. Actually, the NUM is not against energy mix, but against the stealing of Eskom. IPPs must establish their own grid not to demand that Eskom be the revenue collector for them alternatively, Eskom must be allowed to generate green energy.

As the NUM we are not convinced that implementing IPPs in South Africa is in the best interest of the country and the tax-payers as our research proves that the renewables have failed in other countries like Germany.

2.     Court cases against the Department of Mineral Resources

It has come to our attention that some mining companies are taking the Department to court, and are in fact suing for millions of rands. This emanates from section 54 work stoppages that the inspectors of the department have affected in those mines. Section 54 pertains partly to work stoppages where the department feels it is not safe for workers to work. Because it is our members’ safety that is at stake here, we are perturbed that these mining companies can show so much disdain about human lives in pursuit of profits to the extent of abusing our courts of law. As NUM we are convinced that no court of law in this country can come to a conclusion that it is wrong for the Department of Mineral Resources to take precautionary measures to protect people’s lives.

The NUM is also concerned with the exodus of experienced staff from the Department. This is obviously going to affect the performance of the Department. It becomes worse when stakeholders are not taken into confidence when these changes are effected by the ministry.

3.     Compensation for Lilly Mine workers 

It is absurd that this company claims not to have money to compensate the families of the three workers who died in a mine accident. This calls to question as to how did they acquire the mining licence if they cannot even insure their employees against accidents. But, most appalling is for the Minister to take it upon himself to mobilise funds for compensation for deceased or injured mine workers. If this is the beginning of a new era in this regard, fine, but if the government cannot sustain it, this decision is a recipe for disaster.  Mine workers die on almost daily basis and we expect consistency on the part of the Minister. 

4.     Compensation for Marikana deaths

We applaud the fact that government has resolved to pay R1.1 billion in compensation for the people who were killed in Marikana in 2012. We hope that this compensation is meant for all victims including those who died as a result of the chaos created by Impala before and after the 16th August 2012. Actually, it would be prudent for Impala to have contributed a large portion of this compensation money.

 

For more information, please contact:

 

David Sipunzi: NUM General Secretary: 082 883 7293

Livhuwani Mammburu: NUM National Spokesperson: 083 809 3257

 

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