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Eskom staff mull voluntary retrenchment

The utility says it isn't considering forced retrenchments at the moment.

FILE: Eskom is battling fuel shortages, financial constraints and rolling blackouts. Picture: Facebook.

JOHANNESBURG - Eskom says it has asked its staff members to consider voluntary retrenchment packages.

The parastatal says the applications, due in February, will be considered on a case-by-case basis but operational requirements would be considered to ensure core skills are not lost.

Eskom is battling fuel shortages, financial constraints and rolling blackouts and just yesterday warned that load shedding could continue well into March.

The power utility has announced an option for staff members to apply for retrenchment packages but it doesn't yet have an estimated target of how many people are expected to volunteer for this.

At the moment, the utility is not considering forced retrenchments but this week's financial results revealed the parastal made R9.3 billion profit for the first six months of the financial year.

That's down by 24 percent for the same period last year.

Ratings agencies Standard & Poor, Fitch and Moody's recently downgraded Eskom and chief financial director Tsholofelo Molefe said that "any further downgrade would seriously impede Eskom's ability to raise external funding".

PRIVATISATION DEBATE CONTINUES

The debate over whether Eskom should be privatised continues with opposition parties saying it's necessary to keep the lights on but the ruling party standing firmly opposed to such a move.

South Africans have been warned that until new plants come on line the country's power supply will remain unstable.

Professor Anton Eberhard says Eskom can't solve the power crisis on its own.

"We have to fix Eskom on the one hand but we also need to widen and open the space for private investment in new power stations."

The Congress of South African Trade Unions's Patrick Craven says if Eskom is privatised, companies will only seek to make money.

"Electricity has to be seen as a basic public service not something which is there for people to make a quick profit."

On Tuesday, the power giant released its interim report, painting a bleak picture of supply problems that will last well into March, as it battles with limited finances and fuel shortages.

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