Johannesburg - The National Union of Metalworkers of SA
(Numsa) will go to court over its right to picket outside the National Energy
Regulator of SA (Nersa) offices, the union's general secretary said on Sunday.
"It will either be Monday or Tuesday," Irvin Jim
He said the legal papers were still being drafted.
Numsa planned to picket outside Nersa's offices in Arcadia
in Pretoria for 18 hours from 6pm on Wednesday.
"The picket outside Nersa offices is part of Numsa’s
campaign against Eskom’s application for a 16% average annual increase between
2013 and 2018."
In a statement Jim said the picket would include an
all-night candlelight vigil on Wednesday evening and protest action on Thursday
Bishop Paul Verryn and Reverend Purity Malinga of the
Methodist Church would lead the night vigil. Congress of SA Trade Unions
general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi is apparently set to join the vigil.
Jim said Numsa wanted to picket outside the Nersa offices
because on Thursday the regulator would announce whether it granted a 16%
annual electricity increase to take place over the next five years.
He said for the last two weeks Numsa has been negotiating
without success with the SA police service and the City of Tshwane metropolitan
police services to grant the union a permit to protest outside Nersa offices.
"Up to now the South African Police Services and City
of Tshwane metropolitan police services have been unable to pronounce on the
lawfulness of Numsa’s action outside Nersa offices although the union has
applied for a permit".
Jim said considerations about the protest taking place both
during the day and the night - as well as apartheid-era legislation that
defined Nersa offices as a protected 'key point' - appeared to be behind the
With the picketing the union aimed to make its demands
According to the union, Nersa should not grant the increase
and Eskom should be given an inflation-related increase which must be
implemented over three years instead of five. The next three years must be used
to come up with an alternative model for funding electricity generation.
"With all the evidence presented on how disastrous the
electricity price hikes will be, as Numsa, we call on Nersa regulators not to
act as if they are Eskom shop stewards and only think about the electricity
"The regulators must think of workers, poor people and
the country as a whole," Jim said.