Union re­quests ur­gent meet­ing over Eskom’s win­ter power rates

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - Joseph Booy­sen

SOL­I­DAR­ITY trade union wants an ur­gent meet­ing with the gov­ern­ment on the im­pact win­ter power rates have on the steel and chrome in­dus­try.

The union said as part of its Save Our Steel Cam­paign it sent a let­ter to the gov­ern­ment on Fri­day, re­quest­ing an ur­gent high level meet­ing to dis­cuss the neg­a­tive im­pact win­ter power rates had on the sec­tor.

Mar­ius Crou­camp, Sol­i­dar­ity’s deputy gen­eral sec­re­tary for the metal and en­gi­neer­ing in­dus­try, said com­pa­nies closed plants and shut down smelters be­cause of the higher power rates that ap­plied in June, July and Au­gust.

Crou­camp con­tended that a model which al­lowed for flex­i­bil­ity must be found to as­sist and sup­port com­pa­nies dur­ing the in­creased win­ter power tar­iff pe­riod. “Such a model should en­sure that pro­duc­tion is not halted and jobs are re­tained.”

He added that talks with play­ers in the in­dus­try re­vealed that Eskom was not pre­pared to ac­com­mo­date them as far as in­creased win­ter tar­iffs were con­cerned.

“It is pre­cisely be­cause of this premise that Sol­i­dar­ity wants to get in­dus­try play­ers, gov­ern­ment and Eskom around the ta­ble to find a so­lu­tion to the prob­lem.”

Mean­while, the Steel and En­gi­neer­ing In­dus­tries Fed­er­a­tion of South­ern Africa (Seifsa) said last week that the con­trac­tion in the met­als and en­gi­neer­ing sec­tor will be the fo­cus of the third an­nual South African Met­als and En­gi­neer­ing Ind­aba in Septem­ber.

The fed­er­a­tion said ac­cord­ing to the SA Re­serve Bank’s Quar­terly Bul­letin of June 2017, man­u­fac­tur­ing pro­duc­tion con­tracted for the third suc­ces­sive quar­ter in the first quar­ter of this year, which was mainly be­cause of weak do­mes­tic de­mand and low busi­ness con­fi­dence.

Pre­sented by Seifsa in part­ner­ship with the In­dus­trial Devel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion and the Depart­ment of Trade and In­dus­try, the ind­aba is an op­por­tu­nity for busi­ness ex­ec­u­tives, pol­i­cy­mak­ers and trade union rep­re­sen­ta­tives to col­lab­o­rate to­wards ad­dress­ing the chal­lenges fac­ing the sec­tor.

Speak­ing ahead of the ind­aba, Seifsa chief ex­ec­u­tive Kaizer Ny­at­sumba said in ad­di­tion to tack­ling the chal­lenges in the sec­tor, the con­fer­ence would also con­sider the steps nec­es­sary to re­verse the con­trac­tion in the met­als and en­gi­neer­ing sec­tor.

He said ac­cord­ing to Stats SA, the met­als and en­gi­neer­ing sec­tor had shrunk in each suc­ces­sive year since 2013.

“We need to ur­gently turn around that trend, be­cause the steel and en­gi­neer­ing sec­tor is an im­por­tant con­trib­u­tor to the GDP and job cre­ation. This re­quires col­lab­o­ra­tion between gov­ern­ment, labour and busi­ness.

“With un­em­ploy­ment cur­rently at un­ac­cept­ably high lev­els, South Africa needs a vi­brant and com­pet­i­tive steel and en­gi­neer­ing sec­tor.”

Mean­while, the Na­tional Union of Met­al­work­ers of SA (Numsa) said on Fri­day that it wel­comed the sup­port from the SA Fed­er­a­tion of Trade Unions (Saftu) on the loom­ing en­gi­neer­ing strike.

Numsa said Saftu had called on all 24 unions, which rep­re­sent more than 700 000 work­ers in the coun­try to back Numsa in the up­com­ing strike.

“Com­rade Zwelinz­ima Vavi, the gen­eral sec­re­tary of Saftu is cor­rect when he says that ‘the strike in en­gi­neer­ing is a life and death strug­gle for all work­ers in South Africa.

“The em­ploy­ers in other sec­tors are look­ing to see if the en­gi­neer­ing sec­tor suc­ceeds in im­ple­ment­ing the slave wage of R20 per hour, so that they too, can im­ple­ment poverty wages’,” said Numsa.

Numsa said it had not yet an­nounced a de­ci­sion to go on strike as it is in the process of mo­bil­is­ing its mem­bers. – joseph.booy­sen@inl.co.za

Seifsa chief ex­ec­u­tive Kaizer Ny­at­sumba said steps are nec­es­sary to re­verse the con­trac­tion. PHOTO: SIM­PHIWE MBOKAZI

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