Barely a month after the conclusion of the African National Congress's (ANC's) Mangaung congress, the party's alliance partners are voicing their dissatisfaction with the party over a range of issues from soaring electricity prices to e-tolls.
The National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) on Tuesday (29 January) called for the nationalisation of coal mines to mitigate the rocketing electricity prices and trade union federation the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) announced its planned protest action against Eskom's proposed tariff hikes, e-tolling and labour broking.
Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim said the union had taken on Eskom in its application to the National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa), and that the proposed 16% tariff hikes for the next five years would lead to job losses, factory closures and increases in the cost of consumer goods.
SA's electricity prices had rocketed by more than 170% over the past five years, while administered prices in other Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China, SA) countries had decreased by more than 36% in the past decade. The price increases had contributed to the closure of 440,000 small businesses in the five years to 2011.
Numsa said it was set to meet its ally, the ANC, to discuss its opposition to Eskom's third multi-year price determination application.
Jim called on the state to intervene by alleviating the increasingly heavy burden of electricity costs on consumers.
"Eskom is passing to us the huge costs of how they are accessing coal. The government should be moving quickly in taking ownership of coal," he told a media briefing in Johannesburg.
"Nationalising coal could be an alternative, taxing the super-rich could also be an alternative," he said.
Numsa, supported by the Food and Allied Workers Union and the South African Catering, Commercial and Allied Workers Union, committed itself to ensuring that the parastatal did not receive the increase in electricity prices it had demanded.
Earthlife Africa project co-ordinator Tristen Taylor, also opposing the tariff hike, urged Eskom to cancel a cheap power-supply contract with mining group BHP Billiton. In October last year, Eskom announced it was referring the controversial deal, in which it sells power to the firm at below cost, to Nersa.
Taylor said the parastatal was losing about R4.5bn a year, with the special purchasing agreement selling electricity at 8c/kWh. Last year, Democratic Alliance MP Pieter van Dalen said BHP was paying 8.8c/kWh-10c/kWh while residents were paying about 120c/kWh.
Nersa is to hold public hearings into the tariff hikes on 30 January at Gallagher Estate in Midrand. Its hearings in other parts of SA have been characterised by protests and opposition to Eskom's application.
Meanwhile, Cosatu announced a series of protests starting next month against Eskom's 16% annual tariff increase, labour broking and e-tolling.
There would be demonstrations on 11 and 25 February in Gauteng. The protests would culminate with a march throughout SA on 7 March, a year after the first in favour of banning labour broking and against implementing e-tolls was held.
Source: Business Day
via I-Net Bridge