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Fri Nov 28 17:42:18 CAT 2014

Numsa appeals to courts

Sapa | 25 February, 2013 00:37
Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi. File photo.
Image by: ELIZABETH SEJAKE

The National Union of Metalworkers is to go to court to assert its right to picket the offices of the National Energy Regulator.

The union's general secretary, Irvin Jim, said it would appeal to the courts today or tomorrow.

Numsa planned to picket the Nersa offices in Arcadia, Pretoria, for 18 hours from Wednesday at 6pm.

"The picket outside Nersa is part of Numsa's campaign against Eskom's application for a 16% average annual increase [in the electricity-supply tariff] between 2013 and 2018," Jim said.

The picket would include an all-night candle-lit vigil and protest action on Thursday morning.

The regulator is expected to announce on Thursday whether it will allow Eskom a 16%-a-year price increase for the next five years.

Bishop Paul Verryn and the Rev Purity Malinga, both of the Methodist Church, would lead the vigil, Jim said. Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi was expected to attend.

Jim said that, for the past two weeks, Numsa has been negotiating with the police without success for permission to protest outside the Nersa offices.

"Up to now the police, and Tshwane metro police, have been unable to pronounce on the lawfulness of Numsa's action outside the Nersa offices though the union has applied for a permit," he said.

Jim said considerations about the protest taking place during the day and the night - as well as apartheid-era legislation that defined the Nersa offices as a protected "key point" - appeared to be behind the delay in permission being granted.

According to the union, Nersa should not grant the increase and should instead give Eskom an inflation-related increase, to be implemented over three years instead of five. The next three years should be used to find an alternative model for funding electricity generation.

"With all the evidence on how disastrous the electricity price hikes will be, we call on the Nersa regulators not to act as if they were Eskom shop stewards and think only about the electricity utility.

"They must think of workers, poor people and the country as a whole," Jim said.

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