The civil rights watchdog AfriForum today welcomed Eskom’s planned staff reductions as a necessary step in the right direction to solve this power giant’s problems.
Dr Eugene Brink, Strategic Advisor for Community Services at AfriForum, says that the reduction in staff is of grave importance, although this would not solve all Eskom’s problems. “Eskom’s salary account and staff numbers are unaffordable in the context of the much talked-about plans to turn the business around and re-obtain access to finance. There are still many problems to solve, such as corruption and the collection of debt from municipalities, but consumers cannot continue subsidising excess employees.”
Eskom’s employees increased by roughly 50% from 32 600 to 47 600 over the course of the past decade. A World Bank report showed in 2016 that Eskom paid its workers too much compared to other power suppliers in Africa and that about 66% of its employees were redundant.
According to Brink, AfriForum will keep an eye on the situation to see if how these staff reductions would indeed be implemented. “Very little was divulged on how this would be done and the ANC Government will obviously not want to upset their trade union friends too much with massive layoffs so close to an election. Hopefully this isn’t yet another sop to reassure credit rating agencies and moneylenders without making any real changes.
“The top management and its remuneration will also have to be addressed, while valuable engineers and technicians should not be dismissed without much ado. Eskom should still be able to operate, and merit and skills should be the only criteria in these expense-cutting processes,” Brink argues.