South African Union Calls for Eskom Strike During Election Week

(Bloomberg) -- Workers at Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. will strike during the week of scheduled elections in South Africa to protest the possible sale of shares and planned job cuts at the embattled state-owned power utility, according to a regional branch of the National Union of Mineworkers.

“The truth of the matter is that this unbundling is nothing but privatization,” the NUM’s Highveld region said in an emailed statement. “This decision will lead to massive retrenchments at Eskom,” Bizzah Malekutu waga Motubatse, the region’s deputy chairman, said in the statement.

The region’s special council “resolved on marching to Luthuli House and embarking on
a full-blown strike on the week of the national and provincial elections,” it said, referring to the headquarters of the ruling African National Congress. South Africa will hold national and provincial elections in May, though a date has yet to be announced.

Earlier this week Business Day reported that the ANC agreed that selling shares in Eskom is an option to rescue the debt-laden utility, citing a resolution adopted by the party’s executive that met the preceding weekend.

A task team appointed by President Cyril Ramaphosa put forward a package of proposals that includes splitting Eskom into three state-owned companies for generation, transmission and distribution, and also recommended a substantial bailout and tariff increases, the Johannesburg-based newspaper reported.

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