Turning a staff-bloated Eskom around no easy task

CAPE TOWN — It takes conscious willpower not to default to “declinism” when witnessing government bankrolling formerly-captured State-funded enterprises as they struggle to regain their feet after taking near knock-out blows from the Zuptoids. Especially when unions, in whose thrall government is in education and health, for instance, step in to draw out what needs to be quick and efficient slimming down, recovery and recuperation. Not that workers don’t need protection, it’s just that there’s no agreement on fast-tracking in order to get the organisation thriving and re-hiring down the line. Another aspect recently emerged in an excellent analysis by Ed Herbst, former SABC TV and radio veteran, of the golden opportunity in the SABC’s mass layoffs, to target the State acolytes and former henchmen of corporate bully and former SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng. If Ramaphosa’s new order is serious about democratic health, then they should similarly begin with laying off the shady characters still holding senior positions at Eskom. Molefe’s former minions, if you will. However, offering packages to senior execs whom you suspect are slowing down turnaround efforts requires some serious labour relations nous. Which Cyril has. No easy walk to real democracy, it seems. – Chris Bateman

By Hilton Shone

(Bloomberg) — South Africa’s state-owned power utility has started consultations about possible job cuts for executives as the cash-strapped company looks to rein in soaring costs despite stagnant electricity output.

An Eskom sign stands outside the company’s headquarters at Megawatt Park in Sandton. Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg

Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd.’s board has approved 60 days of consultations that need to precede potential job cuts under section 189 of the country’s Labour Relations Act, the Johannesburg-based company said in an emailed statement Wednesday.

The utility provides more than 90 percent of South Africa’s power and is the biggest recipient of government guarantees after years of management and financial difficulties. It is contending with weak demand, delinquent municipalities that don’t pay their bills and graft allegations that have made investors wary of the company. Plans to reduce its workforce of 47,000 to help improve the utility’s finances have been met with opposition from labor unions.