Cosatu warns of protests over electricity tariff hikes

Unions have called on the government to place a moratorium on electricity tariff hikes or face protest action, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) said on Wednesday.

Eskom has requested a 53% price increase from the National Energy Regulator of South Africa.

“The Congress of South African Trade Unions and the Federation of Unions of South Africa have already applied for section 77 notices, which would allow them to embark on protected strike action,” said Cosatu spokesperson Patrick Craven.

The union federations have reportedly said the government could not expect the poor to pay for its poor planning.

Labour representatives met the government at the National Economic Development and Labour Council on Wednesday to discuss what they called “shocking increases”.

Cosatu said a task team must be established to deal with the electricity crisis. The union federations said workers were already battling with high fuel and food prices and could not be burdened with unfair increases.

According to Public Enterprises Minister Alec Erwin, it would be best to take on the increases now rather than wait until 2009 when prices could be increased by 100%.—Sapa

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