Zwelinzima Vavi. Picture: BLOOMBERG/NADINE HUTTON
Zwelinzima Vavi. Picture: BLOOMBERG/NADINE HUTTON

South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said on Thursday that Eskom could not expect workers to pay for the "looting" done by management at the power utility.

Speaking outside Megawatt Park‚ the parastatal’s headquarters in Sunninghill‚ Johannesburg‚ he said that Eskom was reported to be R350bn in the red but that this had not been the case before.

"Remember‚ just a few years ago‚ this was a leading power-generating company in the whole world ... This was an institution that was providing the cheapest electricity in the whole world. Who messed that [up]? It is not the workers. The people who messed that [up] and made it to be on its knees today must answer …. We can’t take responsibility for a mess created by others," said Vavi.

"Brian Molefe‚ Matshela Koko ... all of them are part of the people who have brought Eskom to its knees. Not one of them have been in prison. Not one of them is on trial for the mess they have created. [Eskom] is turning around and saying‚ ‘Workers‚ please pay for the mess’."

He was speaking after a picket organised by the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM)‚ Solidarity, and the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa). The unions are livid after Eskom said there would be no wage increase for workers. The unions are demanding a 15% increase.

"Zero-percent is a declaration of war. That is what they have to know. Once you bring zero-percent and you bring a hammer that wants to cut 10‚000 jobs‚ you are not negotiating but declaring a war on workers‚" said Vavi.

Earlier‚ angry workers threw water bottles at Eskom CEO Phakamani Hadebe, who had just received a memorandum of demands from trade union members.