The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has for several years been calling on Eskom Rotek Industries (ERI) to employ more than 600 fixed-term contractors to be employed permanently by the company. The Eskom Rotek Industries, NUM and NUMSA even signed an agreement in 2016 where the company committed to employing more than 600 fixed-term contractors permanently. Eskom Rotek Industries has now reneged from the 2016 agreement saying they don’t have money to permanently employ those workers. The NUM is now in the process to refer the matter to the Labour Court for the court to enforce the 2016 agreement that the company signed with the trade unions.
Eskom Rotek Industries has now been hit by a strike today from frustrated workers who are paid less yet work hard under very difficult conditions. NUM is not surprised by this unfortunate but expected illegal strike from labour broker employees. ERI has for years been using temporary employee services (TES) and fixed-term contractors (FTC) who have also been robbed of benefits while they are making sure that they power the nation and the economy. ERI moved from 5 labour brokers to 25 which have given rise to the crisis we see today. The NUM view this action of adding more labour brokers as the addition of scavengers for the salaries of our members. The NUM fought and is still fighting against the use of these hyenas. The NUM is fully behind these workers and is calling for the total ban of these labour brokers who are exploiting our members.
We are aware that these new labour brokers have not been helpful or strategic but just brought complaints and cries of none payments, late payments, salary cuts, benefits cuts and lack of PPE just to name a few. ERI is a subsidiary of Eskom which makes it a state-owned company (SOC), we cannot allow the state-owned company to participate in the exploitation of poor workers.
NUM has for some time fought to address this poorly managed strategy which was only known recently as information sharing. Today, the lack of involvement of recognized organized labour in influencing the company strategies, more especially those that affect workers conditions or benefits has come to haunt them.
On the 10th of September 2020, NUM had a meeting with ERI management to raise all labour broker workers issues including the reinstallation of fortnight payments. That meeting came out with only one commitment, which was to make special payments to address fortnight payments, the rest of the issues had no or little response.
NUM requested a follow-up meeting to monitor improvements of these brokers and the commitment made, this was however deliberately ignored. This clearly was trying to ignore an attempt to find a solution. NUM was informed in a letter that these TES issues are commercial and contractual issues. This bad move by management made workers furious and has resulted in today’s strike. This poor strategy which was aimed at undermining the NUM’s effort has now backfired.
As NUM, we say that it serves them right! We will in addition to this apply to go on a secondary strike to show support and solidarity to these unbearable conditions and poor management decisions.
We sympathise with these workers, whom some have been working for over 10 years and management dares to call them seasonal workers.
NUM has written emails and letters not only to ERI but also to Eskom Group CEO but such have fallen on deaf ears.
We believe that his tender process was dubious as these new labour brokers seem not to know that they are doing. Therefore we call on an independent investigation to this labour broker tender.
We support the view that these workers deserve to be appointed permanently! The reasoning of using TES and FTC has not shown a scientific fact that it saves money. Having these TES companies is another way of stealing money from Eskom and the workers as it is unnecessary. We call on the shareholder to intervene and resolve these issue before it is too late.
NUM will continue to defend its members through these tough times and ensure there is justice with the arrogance of this nature.
For more information, please contact:
Phillip Vilakazii, NUM Deputy President, 076 981 1751
Helen Diatile, NUM Eskom Chief Negotiator, 082 809 3270
Khangela Baloyi, Acting NUM National Energy Sector Coordinator, 072 450 6251
Livhuwani Mammburu, NUM National Spokesperson, 083 809 3257.