NUM slams Eskom's plans to shut down coal plants

The National Union of Mineworkers says it is very concerned by the decision taken by Eskom and the national government to close down five power stations.

Eskom recently announced plans to phase out five coal power stations over the next five years to accommodate renewable independent power producers (IPPs).

The power utility will be phasing out the Grootvlei, Kriel, Camden, Hendrina and Komati power stations in Mpumalanga over the next five years.

On March 1, Coal Transportation Forum truck drivers organised a protest following the announcement that government will now employ IPPs.

Eskom’s move is in a bid to reduce greenhouse carbon emissions through renewable energy.

Spokesperson Livhuwani Mammburu says the NUM is concerned about a lack of consultation over this decision, and that it could lead to massive retrenchments.

We were shocked by Eskom's decision... There was no consultation with our members on the ground who are employees of Eskom.

Livhuwani Mammburu, National Spokesperson for the NUM

Why would you rush to close down those power stations without informing our members, who are concerned about the retrenchment that might happen?

Livhuwani Mammburu, National Spokesperson for the NUM

Mammburu explains that while the NUM supports the use of renewable energy, it should not lead to massive retrenchments.

He says Eskom took a unilateral decision without informing NUM workers, who believe that renewable energy cannot replace coal.

Eskom is expected to meet with various unions at a stakeholder meeting on Friday.

Take a listen:

Meanwhile, Eskom says it had planned to meet with affected unions prior to the protests and premature announcements.

We started meeting with some of our stakeholders, and unfortunately some of them let the cat out of the bag before we met with everyone. We were still going to meet with the trade unions.

Khulu Phasiwe, Eskom spokesperson

Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe confirmed that the power utility would meet with three unions on Friday.

He also conceded that job losses would likely happen in the process.

Take a listen:

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