A compact that excludes key participants

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Sandra Hlungwani asked Mbulaheni Mbodi’s view on the Eskom social compact.

What is the Eskom Social Compact?

This was supposed to be a very inclusively negotiated document that included a social net when dealing with Eskom recovery to ensure a secure and affordable electricity supply. But sadly the NEDLAC process has not been as inclusive as it should have been. NUMSA and SAFTU were not included in this process and this can’t be without a negative impact if other views are not considered.

How does it protect affected employees?

The phrase that gets thrown around is Just Energy Transition, which remains largely academic and devoid of pragmatic and practical solutions for the employees in both the coal mines and Eskom. There need to be pathways that talk to energy democracy, decent jobs and livelihoods. All that is seemingly swept under the carpet because the speed of decommissioning of power stations is faster than that of developing pathways and preparing the workers for the transition. Transition is happening largely without workers but with business, government and international communities in tandem (not forgetting some selected trade unions).

What about the surrounding Communities?

The Social Compact has not helped to introduce alternative economic activities. We run the risk of having some ghost towns in places where there was coal as the centre that held the local economy together. Elitism in these processes has a habit of filtering to high places, thereby starving the poor and the working class from proper places to insert their input into what involves them.

What is missing from the Social Compact?

Granular details in the following :

  1. How loadshedding is being dealt with
  2. Protection of affected employees and communities
  3. Eskom debt
  4. Debt recovery more especially the Municipality Debt
  5. How the poor and the working class will live in the face of worsening economic challenges of unemployment, and inequality.

The above may be listed and a scratch on the surface approach attempted. What is not there are granular details talking resoundingly to these challenges in very clear terms.

Can the document be improved?

Not by people who were excluded.

Mbulaheni Mbodi is a NUMSA shop steward and National Secretary in the Eskom Shopsteward Council and sits on the Presidential Climate Commission (PCC). Check here for the full interview.

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Mbulaheni Mbodi
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