POWER SUPPLY: Break Eskom Up - Chamber
Recent Western Cape Business News
THE only possible response to the outrageous demands by Eskom workers for increases of 16 and 20 percent should be to break the state monopoly and to bring independent power producers on line as soon as possible.
The new demands come after Eskom workers received a nine percent increase in the week before the World Cup last year. That increase was double the rate of inflation.
Mr Michael Bagraim, President of the Cape Chamber of Commerce, said the situation was now becoming unreal and a threat to the security of the country. “What the unions are asking for is immoral and if the government and Eskom give in there will be dire consequences for the economy and there will be massive job losses while food and other essentials become more expensive. Workers will be destroying the jobs of other workers.”
He said Eskom had created the problem for itself. The utility had been desperately slow in approving co-generation agreements and the obstacles faced by enthusiastic independent power producers had made it virtually impossible for them to get going.
“The result is that the Eskom monopoly has been entrenched and the unions know this and they are holding a gun to our heads.”
In addition the huge salaries and bonuses paid to Eskom executives had inflamed the unions and they were now after their piece of flesh.
He said the government should respond by giving the mines, major industries and the metropolitan municipalities permission to generate their own electricity. Eskom could assist the process by selling a few of their power stations to the private sector to raise capital and break the monopoly.
“I am quite sure that if municipalities are given the right to partner with the private sector to develop new power stations and to buy renewable energy they will find that that this supply of electricity will soon be cheaper and more reliable than Eskom power.” Mr Bagraim said.
He said the unions would oppose any real competition from the private sector but they could not have it both ways.
“The time has come from Eskom and its main shareholder, the government, to stand up to the unions otherwise all hope of creating the promised millions of new jobs will be lost.”
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