Cosatu pressures government over Eskom debt, broadband spectrum - TechCentral

Cosatu pressures government over Eskom debt, broadband spectrum

Cosatu expects a plan that it’s proposing to save Eskom from its debt burden to be ready within weeks, said the labour federation’s parliamentary coordinator.

The labour group, an ally of the ANC, has proposed using the state pension fund manager, the Public Investment Corp, and government-owned development finance institutions to cut the power utility’s debt by R254-billion to R200-billion. The company’s dire finances have led to regular power cuts and stagnant economic growth.

While there was initially some disagreement within Cosatu as some affiliate unions were concerned about the plan consultations have now been held, Matthew Parks, the coordinator, said. The matter was discussed at the Presidential Working Committee, which groups labour business and other stakeholders, on Monday, he said.

“We do appreciate that its a very emotional issue” because of state corruption, he said. “You are going to an institution that has been broken by corruption.”

Cosatu and Business Unity South Africa, the main business lobby group, had previously said they’d hoped a pact would be announced in last month’s state of the nation address, but this was moved out to allow for more consulting.

Labour officials also pressed the government over what they see as its lack of urgency in selling broadband spectrum needed by telecommunications companies, finalising the public procurement bill and setting a levy on exports of scrap metal, he said.

Job cuts

At a later meeting of the ANC’s National Working Committee, South African Airways, the state airline that’s undergoing a bankruptcy process, was discussed, Parks said.

Under some of the scenarios being considered it could shed 6 500 jobs, Parks said. The labour group wants talks to be held with other airlines to absorb some of the jobs.

“We’re adamant that government must honour its job summit agreement commitment not to retrench workers, this includes” SAA, he said in an interview. “We’ve told government they must look at alternatives to retrenchments including redeployment within state-owned enterprises, the public sector and service. We won’t agree to retrenching any workers.”  — Reported by Antony Sguazzin, (c) 2020 Bloomberg LP

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