Eskom reportedly wants to reduce its qualified white workforce by at least 1,308 over the next year. Yet, while Eskom wants to drastically cut the number of skilled white engineers and managers to ensure that it meets its affirmative action targets, trade union Solidarity want to do the opposite by supplying a skills bank of qualified staff to help alleviate the crisis at Eskom.
As Solidarity launched a skills bank on its website https://solidariteit.co.za/en/eskom-knowlgedge/ on Monday where engineers and technicians can register so their skills can be re-recruited to Eskom, reports by Sunday rag Rapport suggests the opposite will happen.
MyBroadband.co.ze quotes the rag as saying the skilled white employees which are being targeted include engineers, tradespeople, academically qualified staff, and middle management.
These plans come as the company is under pressure from the Department of Labour to reduce the number of white employees to reflect the country’s demographics.
In March 2015, Eskom shared its plans to decrease the number of skilled white employees by 3,389 to meet its affirmative action targets. According to reports at the time, Eskom had to cut the number of white engineers and managers by 1,081, and decrease the number of white tradespeople by 2,179.
These white staff cuts were needed to comply with South Africa’s strict provisions of the Equity Act.
According to the reports the Department of Labour was insistent that Eskom must make changes to ensure its employee demographics reflect South Africa’s “national and regional demography”.
In November 2014 Solidarity warned Eskom about the grave consequences of its serious skills shortage. However, these warnings fell on deaf ears.
The National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) agreed with Solidarity, saying that the manner in which Eskom applied affirmative action was hurting service delivery.
“Let’s be honest, a lot of the people who work at Eskom do not have the skills required of them,” a Numsa spokesperson said at the time.
But Solidarity says the creation of its knowledge bank comes in the wake of announcements made by Pres Cyril Ramphosa and Public Enterprises Minister, Pravin Gordhan that the services of competent former Eskom employees, locally and abroad, should be used to help alleviate Eskom’s skills shortages.
Solidarity offered its assistance and called on all South Africans to make Eskom’s rescue a national project. However, Solidarity Chief Executive Dr Dirk Hermann, said the condition for such assistance is that justice prevails. Solidarity called on Pres Ramaphosa to appoint a commission of inquiry under the chairmanship of a judge to investigate the crisis, mismanagement and corrupt activities at Eskom. According to Solidarity, the commission’s terms of reference must be such that the findings could be referred to the National Prosecuting Authority for prosecution.
Solidarity plans to propagate the skills bank widely among its members, former members and their networks. “We plan to post it on overseas groups, and we call on South African embassies and missions to help register South African skills so we could have the opportunity to re-recruit them. Many of the experts are abroad for the time being only and would be keen to offer their skills in South Africa instead. Thousands of retired engineers and technicians in South Africa are also ready to offer their help,” Hermann said.
According to Solidarity, the best investment that can be made in Eskom right now is an investment in top skills, even if it is only for the interim to ease Eskom out of its crisis.