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The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) is demanding that Eskom must be given 70% allocation in the renewable energy space, if the energy transition is to be considered ‘Just’. And that the private sector can be allocated 30% of renewable energy. The renewable energy sector must be backed up with coal power stations, because renewable energy, is not necessarily available when you need it because it is an unreliable form of energy. Therefore, the coal stations must not be closed, but they must be mothballed so that at any time, they can act as a back-up and we can restart them when RE fails to deliver sufficient energy. South Africa must not be told to close coal fired power stations when Europe is not closing its power stations.
These were some of the remarks made by comrade Irvin Jim at the NUM Just Energy Transition Summit which is being held by the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) from the 19th to the 20th of September. The summit is focusing on the Energy Transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy, and it is discussing the pitfalls and the challenges faced by workers who, so far, have been negatively affected by the transition.
The General Secretary of NUMSA expressed concerns that workers will get left behind if they do not occupy all spaces of the debate. The state has begun the process to privatize Eskom and they are doing it, without bothering to consult- workers,
“What we are not being told is that Eskom is being privatised. The minister says we will never privatise Eskom, but when they close a power stations they replace it with IPP’s in the grid, which is privately owned. That is privatization of energy. That is privatization of our country’s energy provision, which we will never get back.”
The SACP General Secretary comrade Solly Mapaila and the minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan were among those who addressed the delegates.
The NUMSA General Secretary also questioned why government is rushing to implement the transition in South Africa, when we carbon emissions are minimal, compared to Germany, the U.K. or the U.S.
“There is a rush to implement the energy Transition that’s why they are closing power stations. And the unfortunate thing is that there is a document from the World Bank which states that once a power station is closed, it cannot be re-opened again. It was one of the conditions of the R8.5 billion loan.”
The NUMSA General Secretary also called on NUMSA and NUM to unite to stop loadshedding because it is causing massive job losses, and it is destroying the economy. It is NUMSA’s view that loadshedding is economic sabotage designed to promote privatization of energy generation. Eskom can end loadshedding if maintenance is prioritized and properly funded, but there is no political will to resolve the crisis, because their focus is to empower the private sector instead of ending loadshedding. The ANC led government has gone as far as normalizing rolling blackouts as part of South African life. Comrade Jim pointed out that Germany re-started power stations in order to prevent blackouts. It seems South Africa’s economy being sacrificed when the problem can be resolved. Capitalism is responsible for climate change, therefore, how can capitalists be the one to solve the crisis? They are motivated by a profit and it is naïve to think they care about reducing carbon emissions.
This is why the unity of NUM and NUMSA is sacrosanct because both unions are facing the same enemy. Workers will have to unite to protect their jobs and to also to defend the economic development of the country, which is being sabotaged by greedy politicians who are serving the interests of capitalists, at the expense of our developmental goals.
The struggle continues!
Issued by NUMSA General Secretary, Irvin Jim