The biggest labour group at Eskom blamed “poor leadership” for ongoing nationwide power cuts, a discordant sign as the utility embarks on a plan to become profitable again.
The National Union of Mineworkers is “very disappointed with the performance” of Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter and the lack of a plan to prevent outages, it said Thursday in a statement. The group also continues to oppose the use of independent electricity producers, which Eskom is counting on to help increase generation.
South Africa could experience power shortages through at least April, presenting another threat to an economy already hampered by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Eskom is saddled with R464-billion of debt and has been unable to provide reliable power since 2008, when outages began.
“Eskom has regularly communicated its plan to improve the performance of the power stations and to reduce load shedding,” the utility said in response to questions. There is “a good working relationship with its labour representatives, including the NUM”, it said.
The NUM, which represents about a third of Eskom’s more than 44 772-strong workforce, urged the government to change the leadership at Eskom. Relations between the labour union and management have been strained in the past over issues including wages.
The government-guaranteed tranche of Eskom 2028 debt yielded 4.7% by 12.40pm in Johannesburg. They traded at 4.6% on 4 January, the lowest since they began trading in 2018. — Reported by Paul Burkhardt, (c) 2021 Bloomberg LP