The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ [NEHAWU] has reliably learnt that the South African Nuclear Energy Corporation [Necsa] Board has tabled before the Department of Energy a “Turnaround Strategy” which proposes the retrenchment of 400 staff members and possible sale of public assets without the knowledge and consultation of organised labour. We have also learnt that even the Necsa Executive Committee (EXCO) was also not consulted.
We are not surprised by these sinister actions of the Board given the posture of the Necsa Board Chairperson, Dr Rob “Mr Retrenchments” Adam who narrated the Necsa’s financial situation in Parliament on the 5th March 2019 in a manner that suggests some commitment to provide a justification to among others, retrench of workers and privatisation of state assets in general and Pelchem in particular.
The sentiments he uttered in parliament, whilst at the same time claiming not to be declaring section 189, are no different to the interview he gave to the Engineering News on the 12th December 2018 wherein in our view he contemplated and by so doing illegally declared section 189 through the media before the board could meet for the first time after being appointed. It was clear from this that any pretence of consultation henceforth will be in bad faith and the imposition of a decision already concluded.
We are disgusted with his continued anti-working class attitude because the language and agenda of retrenchments is what seems to characterise Dr Adam’s management style. We feel validated to hold this attitude because he left Necsa in financial tatters in 2012 with 250 employees served with retrenchments notices. He left Necsa to join Aveng Nuclear Manufacturing division which also collapsed and retrenched its employees.
To prove that his management style was a disaster to workers at Necsa, within a space of one year in 2013, through the intervention of NEHAWU and the reduction of inefficiencies originating from his time as CEO, Necsa was able to achieve a turnaround of R100 million from a deficit of R75 million at the start of 2012/13 financial year to a surplus of R29 million at the end of the period. As a consequence of this, the Board at the time was able to clean his mess and took a decision to lift section 189 notices.
Just as it was true in 2013 after “Mr Retrenchments” left, it remains true to this day that the inefficiencies in the organisation can be addressed objectively through cooperation between labour and the employer without rushing and resorting to retrenchments. Retrenchments are an action of a last resort and cannot be used as a vendetta to finish what he could not in 2012!
To take charge and within months attempt to project a false narrative that the financial situation is as a result of wage bill only, is disingenuous! Necsa’s leakages or inefficiencies are much broader than the wage bill. It was also incorrect for “Mr Retrenchment” to create a false impression in public that the R500 million government grant is the only source of income for Necsa. In addition to the grant, Necsa derive income from dividends, external sales, rental, and interests, among others.
The above reality alone should be reason enough for the Minister of Energy, Honourable Gwede Mantashe, to view his half-baked solutions with serious suspicion, go beyond his scare mongering and interrogate Necsa’s financial inefficiencies and efforts to increase income objectively by engaging all relevant stakeholders. We call on the Minister of Energy to reject this sham of a “Turnaround Strategy” and send it back for proper consultation and engagement by stakeholders within the organisation.
The appointment of white males, Rob Adam as Board Chairperson, retired Mr Don Robertson as Acting Group Chief Executive Officer and retired Rico Viljoen as Acting Chief Financial Officer, in key positions in the organisation is the reversal of the transformation agenda. A similar trend is happening at NTP where experienced and capable black professionals are pushed to the margins to facilitate the employment of consultants from minority groups at a huge cost and security risk. Both Rob Adam and Don Robertson when judges against their history at Necsa have no meaning record of transformation.
We have since learnt that the Necsa Board has intentions to close and/or sell Pelchem, Pelindaba Enterprises and Necsa property. We call on the Board to publicly confirm or deny these allegations. Similarly, NTP has intentions of selling its subsidiaries who are profitable, namely, NTP Logistics, Gamma-tek and AEC Amersham. As a matter of principle we stand in opposition to the surrender of public resources to private individuals. Public resources are for public benefit!
The confrontational language and attitude towards workers “Mr Retrenchment” is displaying in secret and in public is not in the interest of the organisation. In fact, he is pushing the organisation into a costly crisis, as such, we are calling for him and his entire Board to go. Given his anti-working class bias, he does not deserve to be the Necsa Board Chairperson! We are puzzled how Jeff Radebe came to the decision to appoint him in the first place.
We are also calling for the Boards and Managing Directors of both NTP and Pelchem to go because they have failed to lead these entities in compliance to safety and Nuclear Licence Installation conditions.
Necsa’s turnaround strategy cannot be complete without placing the replacement of SAFARI-1 at the centre as a matter of urgency and the expansion of nuclear energy and technology in South Africa. This is what the Board should be grappling with if they have the interests of Necsa at heart.
Just as we are calling for the board to go, we stand ready to engage to find solutions to addressing the challenges of increasing income and reduce inefficiencies. We firmly believe that just as it was the case in 2012, solutions do exist that can make the organisation sustainable.
The unacceptable conduct of the Board has provoked us beyond what is necessary and tolerable. In this regard, on the 12 – 14 June 2019 we will be embarking on phase one of our mass action against this attack on workers by the Board through lunch time picketing.
Issued by NEHAWU