NUM warns Eskom not to retrench its members

21 June 2018 - 16:06
By Kgaugelo Masweneng And Thando Mpembe
Image: John Liebenberg TURN THE LIGHTS BACK ON

On the back of industrial action by Eskom employees over wage increases‚ the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has warned the power utility not to retrench its members.

"We must warn Eskom of dire consequences‚ if it thinks the looting mess created by the Guptas will be corrected by retrenchments of our members. The workers at Eskom are not responsible for state capture‚" said David Sipunzi‚ General Secretary of NUM at its annual conference on Thursday in Boksburg.

South Africa experienced load shedding towards the end of last week during the impasse over Eskom’s initial position that there would be no wage increases – a position that it has since revised.

Unions are still engaged in wage talks.

"We remain resolute that Eskom should remain a public entity and not be available for privatisation. We know with privatisation comes retrenchments. For every mineworker there are five dependants‚ this is according to our investigations. We thank our negotiators for rejecting the so called 0% increase‚" Sipunzi added.

Speaking on safety in the industry‚ NUM asked its members to consider nominating Sibanye as one of the worst employers of 2018 in light of recent mining deaths. At least 45 lives have been lost in mine accidents during 2018‚ 20 of which took place at Sibanye Stillwater mine.

"This has to stop"‚ said Sipunzi.

On Wednesday a memorial service was held for the five miners who died at Sibanye-Stillwater's Kloof Ikamva shaft. As part of redress‚ the union is demanding a reimbursement process for mineworkers similar to the Life Esidimeni arbitration.

"Mining is indeed a risky and killing industry. When mental illness patients die it becomes a big issue, rightfully so, but when mineworkers die we don't get close to that. We want the same for mineworkers.

"We did not come to the mines to die or lose limbs‚ we came to work and provide for our families. That is why we will never have peace in South Africa‚ because the spirits of the deceased are complaining‚" said Sipunzi.