Eskom is spending a “fortune” feeding its workers lamb chops, chicken casserole, and croissants, despite the power utility being in the midst of a financial crisis. This is according to a report in the Sunday Times.
The report states that Eskom subsidises the meals of 17,000 employees – 37% of its workforce – while contractors building the Medupi and Kusile power stations receive hot meals thanks to a R1.5-billion catering contract.
The food bill is a costly addition to Eskom’s list of expenses, which includes the delayed and over-budget coal-fired power stations it is building and the R1-billion a month diesel bill for generators.
Food subsidies by the company range from between 50% to 80% of a meal’s cost, and are a “long-standing tradition” at Eskom.
“Workers get used to these things and if you take them away you’ll get a riot,” said Numsa’s Steven Nhlapo.
The Sunday Times said Eskom avoided answering questions about the sustainability of the food expenses, only stating that “operational and capital expenditure was under scrutiny in a bid to cut costs”.
Among the bids contractors have put in to supply food at Eskom, includes:
- A-grade red and white meat and mandatory dessert for 500 people at the Eskom Research and Innovation Centre in Johannesburg.
- Grilled fish, braaied meat, and roast chicken at Kriel power station.
- Cheese and jam croissants, scones with fresh cream, and fruit platters at Mersey Training Centre in KZN.
The billion rand catering contract for Medupi and Kusile workers was first reported on in December 2014, when the newspaper stated the two five-year deals included the serving of “meals… in huge dining areas on site include beef, chicken, mutton or vegetarian dishes”, along with “fresh fruit juice”.
The full report is available in the Sunday Times of 3 May 2015.