Power utility Eskom says it has no plans to retrench workers. This after Solidarity claimed on Thursday that the state-owned entity had plans to “get rid” of 500 white men, who are responsible for maintenance, by 2025.
According to Solidarity, the apparent plan to “get rid” of 500 white men, was part of Eskom’s “race plan” for 2023 to 2025.
But Solidarity said it had written a letter to the power utility asking for it to put aside the race quotas and rather focus on developing the entity.
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“In the letter, Solidarity points out that there is an urgent need in South Africa for the deployment of best skills in jobs regardless of race. There are competent black and white artisans at Eskom and out there and those are the people Eskom should recruit based on their ability to help solve the power crisis and without looking at the colour of their skin.
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“We do not see in the plan that Eskom is making plans to address its skills challenges. This plan is all about skin colour at the various job levels,” Solidarity Chief Executive Dr Dirk Hermann, said.
“These absurd race targets come amid the fact that power station maintenance is one of Eskom’s major challenges. Eskom should now focus on one thing only, and that is not race, but power. South Africans do not need race targets but light in their homes and power for their businesses,” Hermann explained.
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“Targets such as these discourage existing staff members and also imply that competent white persons cannot apply for jobs to help solve the crisis. Also, it makes it nearly impossible to appoint some of the hundreds of experts who have offered their services to assist Eskom because they have the wrong skin colour.”
Solidarity said it was also preparing for a court case to have Eskom exempted from black economic empowerment requirements.
Eskom not planning to retrench workers
On Friday, Eskom said it had no plans to retrench any of its workers.
“Retrenchments in South Africa are regulated by Section 189 (3) of the Labour Relations Act of 1995, with strict requirements on appropriate consultations with all the relevant stakeholders, including the recognised trade unions,” said Eskom in a statement.
“These consultations must clearly spell out the reasons and conditions under which retrenchments can be allowed. Discrimination based on race or gender do not qualify as a criterion for retrenchment.”
Eskom said the documents Solidarity referred to in its letter were part of internal consultations on employment equity with trade unions, which seek to verify information for correctness, solicit inputs on targets as well as the required affirmative action measures.
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“It is rather unfortunate, opportunistic, and unprofessional for Solidarity, or any party to the confidential internal consultations, to opt to cause unnecessary panic and fear, creating sensation among our staff and in the media before allowing the internal processes to make the appropriate decision,” said Eskom.
“Eskom’s transformation agenda and employment practices are guided by our values, operational requirements, and the country‘s labour laws rather than race. We are committed to achieving diversity, equity and inclusion in a responsible and sustainable manner.”