Eskom trims fat, drops thousands of jobs
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Durban - ESKOM chief executive Andre de Ruyter has said that the parastatal has shed thousands of jobs, as the organisation tries to overcome a host of problems it faced, including a bloated workforce.
He spoke at a discussion hosted by the Free Market Foundation on Monday.
De Ruyter, who was appointed as chief executive in 2019, said the organisation had shed about 2 000 jobs in the past year.
The jobs were shed through a process of natural attrition, such as retirement and voluntary severance packages.
He said the organisation still had about 44 000 employees and the right size would be about 38 000.
It has been previously reported that Eskom had a bloated workforce, which has been widely criticised.
The talk comes as South Africa is currently undergoing another round of load shedding.
De Ruyter also addressed what he said was the myth of managers who were getting bonuses and pay increases. He said this was untrue.
He also said they looked at the cost of procurement, as he admitted that they did not perform well in this regard and that it would be a focus area for them.
“This area has been a particular concern of fraud and corruption in the past. There are still instances of untoward behaviour in this space and we think there are good opportunities to improve the efficiency of our procurement,” said De Ruyter.
“What we have is a fleet of power stations that are, on average, 39 years old. They have lived a very hard life,” he said.
He added that they had pushed the power stations hard by international standards and that this had contributed to problems of reliability of the power stations, which was made worse by the lack of maintenance and refurbishment.
A maintenance programme began last year.
“While we do the maintenance, then the risk of load shedding goes up. When we finish the maintenance, we should significantly reduce the risk of load shedding. We anticipate that by September this year, we should see a substantial reduction in the risk of load shedding,” De Ruyter said.
He said fixing some of the issues at various plants takes about 75 days and R300 million per unit that they take offline.
Another issue was that of its customers not paying. He said municipalities owed the entity R36 billion, and the top of these municipalities owed Eskom 70% (R25.2 billion) of the debt.
He also tackled the issue of electricity pricing – which has been a sore matter for many South Africans who are struggling with paying their electricity bills.
He said the price charged by Eskom needed to be a cost reflective tariff and noted their National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa) legal problems.
De Ruyter said he hoped to address the electricity matter in a manner that does not bring a shock to the economy, as they were trying to avoid a sudden large increase and would prefer a phased approach.