Eskom sets aside money forvoluntary exits for staff

The Eskom headquarters in Megawatt Park, Johannesburg. The power utility is struggling to keep the lights on and has massive debt
TIGHT SPOT: The Eskom headquarters in Megawatt Park, Johannesburg. The power utility is struggling to keep the lights on and has massive debt

Cash-strapped power utility Eskom has put aside R400m for packages for non-core staff who want to  leave the company.

According to a letter to all executives from group executive of human resources Elsie Pule, a window of voluntary separation packages (VSPs) will open for managerial-level employees.

Staff aged between 60 and 62 will be eligible to apply irrespective of being in core, critical or non-core positions.

Pule said the process was voluntary and no employee should be coerced or requested to apply.

Eskom is facing a severe financial and operational crisis, with cash from operations falling short of monthly debt service costs.

Despite a R128bn government bailout over the next three years, the situation is so dire that the government is mulling a proposal by union federation Cosatu to use worker pension funds to pay down part of the utility’s daunting R450bn debt.

Pule said approval of voluntary packages  would  be at Eskom’s discretion and based on approved guiding principles that would be communicated in due course.

She said each division would be allocated a cap on funds based on the proportion of eligible employees.

The approved separation benefits will be based on two weeks remuneration per completed year of service and a gratuity payment of R75,000.

The window for applications will open in the third week of the month, with employee exits planned for the end of April — except for those taking early retirement.

In 2015, Eskom shelved plans to reduce staff numbers and arrest spiralling costs after a voluntary separation process at the time attracted thousands of applications from people with skills it did not want to lose.

At the time, Business Day  reported that in the first month of the voluntary separation process Eskom received 4,000 applications.

Twenty employees left in the power utility in March 2015, including senior and special-skills staff in the nuclear division, after their applications were signed off before other applications started flooding in.

Pule said that as part of the lessons learnt from the   VSP rollout in 2015, Eskom was exploring a centralised application technology platform and decision-making process. — BusinessLIVE


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