cosatuCity Press reports that trade union federation Cosatu is exploring two more urgent interventions which it thinks could help reduce power utility Eskom’s spiralling debt.  

The first is to ask the government to “tap into billions of rands in unclaimed mineworkers’ retirement funds” and the second is to “use funds from the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF)”.  The proposals follow hot in the heels of the federation’s contentious initial suggestion that the government should consider tapping into its Government Employees’ Pension Fund to steady the power utility’s debt.  Cosatu spokesperson Sizwe Pamla pointed out that there had been a “gross misrepresentation” of its initial proposal that the government should consider tapping into the pension fund.  “Unlike what some have reported, we [as Cosatu] do not want the Public Investment Corporation [which administers the GEPF] to contribute the entire R454 billion.  We have been in talks with the government and the private sector to make it clear to them that we expect the government and business to contribute towards Eskom’s debt and then the shortfall would come from the pension fund.  Beyond this, we have proposed that some money should also come from the UIF to contribute to rescuing Eskom,” Pamla explained.  On the UIF, he said there had been talks with union members “to sell them the idea of using the fund”.  Pamla went on to say:  “We have explored the possibilities of using retirement benefits, particularly those of mine workers who cannot be found for one reason or another, mainly because some were from Mozambique, some from Zimbabwe or some from the Eastern Cape.  This money is growing and it has a surplus.”  In 2017 the Presidency noted that the unclaimed mineworkers’ retirement benefits were about R10 billion “in various pension and provident funds”.  The money was said to have dated back to the 1970s.  Pamla argued that instead of the money sitting with provident and pension fund administrators, it ought to be invested into worker-related matters, such as trying to save Eskom and attempting to keep the utility’s 46,000 workers employed.


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