NEWS & ANALYSIS

Dept of Energy's disregard of workers concerning – COSATU

Federation says signing of IPP contracts done in haste, closure of power stations will hit employees hard

COSATU’s position on the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers (REIPP)

13 March 2018

COSATU notes with great concern the Department of Energy’s disregard of workers concerns with regards to the signing of the renewable energy independent power producers (REIPPs). COSATU in its 2012 Congress recognised the necessity of moving from a high carbon economy dependent on coal and oil to a low carbon economy powered by renewable energy sources, especially wind, in order to reduce CO2 emissions to mitigate global warming.

We are committed to making a just transition to such an economy. This means putting the needs of the working and poor first in the social and economic challenges ahead of us.  

The Department of Energy has again, in haste, began the process of signing the IPP contracts ,despite COSATU’s section 77 notice on IPPs and the closure of Eskom power stations at Nedlac. Our submission clearly highlighted the plight of the workers that stood to be negatively affected by the eminent closure of the power stations and the mass roll out of the REIPP program. Our demands included the following:

1.  On Eskom

1.1. The IPP contracts should be suspended immediately.

1.2. Eskom must not sign new IPP contracts

2.  Our demand on Government

2.1.  Must align the policy on the energy mix with SA’s needs to address unemployment, poverty and income inequality.

2.2.  Renegotiate all IPP contracts with a view of withdrawing from all existing IPP contracts.

2.3. Suspend with immediate effect all commitments to purchase renewable energy from IPP’s.

2.4. Stop liberalising the energy market.

2.5. Stop all plans to further commercialise and privatise Eskom.

2.6. Conclude through Nedlac an enforceable social accord between the relevant government departments or all respondents to this notice and labour on the creation of jobs, local production and purchase of renewable energy.

2.7. Renewable sector should be state owned.

2.8. In addition the renewable sector should be owned by the working class specifically worker co-operatives. There should be a dedicated state fund to provide grants to worker owned cooperatives in the renewable sector.

2.9. Where workers are dismissed due to the introduction of IPP’s there should be income support in addition to UIF.

2.10. The government must stop subsidising IPP’s with immediate effect.

3. Our demand on the South African Independent Power Producers Association

3.1. They must manufacture and buy at least 75% of all renewable energy inputs in South Africa.

3.2. Create decent jobs.

3.3.  Workers must be allowed to join trade unions.

3.4. Must produce data on the number of jobs that have been created and that may be created in the future. 

3.5. Our demand on NERSA

3.5.1. Must reject the inclusion of renewable energy tariffs into Eskom tariffs.

3.5.2. Reverse all tariffs increases that include renewable tariffs.

3.5.3. Ensure that all tariff increases including renewable do not exceed the inflation rate.  

In spite of COSATU’s section 77 notice the Department of Energy has continued in their bid to pursue the signing of the IPPs contract without a sustainable jobs plan or process to re-skill workers in order to take advantages of opportunities in the renewable sector.

The Minister of Energy in his statement on the 8th of March 2018 speaks about the creation of 61 600 jobs during the construction phase of the plants. This we believe adds insult to injury, as the 2010 World Cup has taught us jobs in construction will fade away as soon as contraction is completed, plunging workers deeper into the clutches of poverty, unemployment and inequality.    

What is clear from COSATU’s section 77 is that we are committed to a move to a low carbon economy but reject the introduction of IPPs in their current form. Liberalisation of the energy sector will not increase jobs instead it would defeat the goal of the NDP of reducing unemployment to 14% by 2020 and to 6% by 2030.

We call upon the Minister of Energy not to proceed with the signing of the IPP contracts post the 27th March2018. We urge the Minister to engage in a process of social dialogue around this matter in order to ensure that jobs are not lost in the process towards renewable energy. We urge the Minister to embark upon a process of ensuring that the transition towards renewable energy is just with the ownership of such in the hands of workers and the community.

Issued by Sizwe Pamla, National Spokesperson, COSATU, 13 March 2018