Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Cosatu plans mass action for July on electricity crisis

By Ilhaam Hoosain
11 June 2008

In July the Congress of South African Trade Unions will launch a campaign of rolling mass action in opposition to job losses because of the electricity crisis.

The 2 July 2008 marks the beginning of the campaign, with provincial action, continuing throughout the month of July and concludes in a national stay away on 30 July.

According to Cosatu the action is covered by a Notice under Section 77 of the Labour Relations Act in response to the danger of retrenchments in the mining sector and elsewhere due to the Eskom’s decision of to reduce electricity supply to industry and its threat to oppose any new major construction initiatives.

“Cosatu is further concerned that Eskom’s proposed 53% tariff increase will put thousands more jobs at risk, as companies, already facing massive increases in the cost of fuel and interest rates, try to balance their books by retrenching workers, or may be forced to close down.

“This comes at the time when unemployment is still around 35% and poverty affects around half of the population, with inequalities growing,” says spokesperson Patrick Craven.

Cosatu and the organised labour acknowledges that the current power-cuts and power shortages is a national crisis and affects all South Africans. They will work actively and constructively to help manage the power-shortage and to find a lasting solution.

“We are adamant however that workers should not be asked to pay for government's failure to invest in electricity in the late 1990s, as a result of its plans to privatise Eskom and do nothing when it was warned about the amount of investment that would be required to meet the expected rise in demand for power in the future,” says Craven.

Their demands vary from a package of proposals for short-medium-and long-term measures; an urge for an energy efficiency campaign, to significant financial contribution by government that is required.

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