The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) has called for an urgent summit with labour, State-owned Eskom and government to discuss renewable energy and jobs.
The trade union said in a statement on Friday that the departments of Trade and Industry and Economic Development had to formulate an industrialisation plan to ensure that South Africa produced renewable energy inputs through labour-intensive methods of production.
AMCU said that it supported the need to move to a low-carbon economy, but stressed that it should be a “just transition” where renewable energy both became the main energy source and the basis for affordable electricity for all.
“We must decarbonise the energy sector and produce electricity from wind and solar. We know we must shift from coal-fired power plants, which are currently responsible for 45% of our country’s very high level of greenhouse gas emissions.”
The trade union said that it agreed with several other trade unions that have expressed concern with government’s policy towards addressing climate change through its privatised renewable energy programme.
“We demand an end to the privatised Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers Procurement Programme to be replaced by a State-driven and socially owned renewable energy sector,” it said.
The AMCU call echoes the sentiment of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa), which together with Transform RSA, on March 12 approached the court to prevent Eskom from concluding power purchase agreements (PPAs) with independent power producers. Numsa argues that 30 000 working class families were at risk as a result of the 27 PPAs, a claim which the South African Wind Energy Association has challenged.