Ramaphosa seeks to bring labour on board over plans to unbundle Eskom

President Ramaphosa says the government will be meeting with labour in the coming days to thrash out their concerns and he’s hoping it will be a collaborative process.

President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: GCIS

CAPE TOWN/JOHANNESBURG - President Cyril Ramaphosa says he will be having deep conversations with organised labour about plans to unbundle Eskom.

The plan to break Eskom up into three separate entities has been met with outrage from unions.

Responding to the debate on his State of the Nation Address (Sona) in Parliament on Thursday, Ramaphosa again stressed this is not a step towards privatising the utility.

He conceded the process, up until now, may not have been as inclusive and consultative as it could have been but says he’s committed to changing that.

President Ramaphosa says there are no quick fixes to the problems at Eskom.

But aggressive steps are needed to put an end to load shedding.

While unbundling the company will not resolve problems in the short-term, Ramaphosa says it must be done to improve the long-term financial sustainability of the power utility.

“We have not done enough as the government to bring some of our key stakeholders such as labour on board on the various aspects of this matter, but we are determined to correct this.”

He says the government will be meeting with labour in the coming days to thrash out their concerns and he’s hoping it will be a collaborative process.

“Let us reject the false narrative that the only way out of this is through bitter confrontation and conflict.”

CONCERNS AROUND THE UNBUNDLING OF ESKOM

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) says if the government ignores its concerns around the unbundling of Eskom, its members could retaliate by withholding their votes at the polls.

The union has raised several concerns around the intended move, warning that it could discourage its membership from backing the African National Congress (ANC) come the elections in May.

There are fears that splitting the embattled power utility into three entities would lead to major job losses.

The NUM says the coal industry employs the largest portion of its members, so the introduction of clean energy at Eskom through the unbundling process will deliver a major blow to its workers.

NUM President Joseph Montisetse says if the unbundling goes ahead, he cannot control how members respond come the May elections.

“If the party they support does not respond positively to their grievances they will hold their vote.”

He says the workers have done this before and the effects are clear.

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)