Eskom denies massive recruitment drive focussed on Affirmative Action

Eskom has denied that it embarked on an aggressive recruitment drive a few years ago which was partly focussed on balancing its affirmative action ratios rather than obtaining the right skills.

Between 2011 and 2013, the number of employees at Eskom increased by 4,488 – from 41,778 to 46,266.

A large number of these additional staff members were employed over a three-month period at the start of 2013.

Eskom explained that “the build strong skills key performance area was achieved due to an aggressive recruitment drive in the final quarter of the year”.

Eskom employees who were involved in this “aggressive recruitment drive” told MyBroadband that they were given extremely aggressive employment targets to meet.

They said it put so much pressure on them that they recruited staff on the spot at universities with only a short interview to meet targets.

They added that there was additional pressure on them to “balance the numbers” to meet Affirmative Action targets.

This, the sources said, resulted in many people being employed without the proper skills and for the sole purpose of ensuring Affirmative Action targets were met.

“People were employed based on race and gender rather than skills needed by the company,” one Eskom manager told MyBroadband.

Eskom denies aggressive recruitment drive

An Eskom spokesperson told MyBroadband that “according to our records, Eskom did not embark on an aggressive recruitment drive in the financial year 2011-2013”.

This is despite the fact that Eskom’s annual report for the period states: “The build strong skills key performance area was achieved due to an aggressive recruitment drive in the final quarter of the year.”

The company said the growth in headcount over that period is consistent with the previous financial years’ growth.

The staff growth over that period, Eskom said, was partly due to compliance to anticipated amendments to the Labour relations act on non-permanent employees (reducing contractor staffing contingency).

Other factors which increased the headcount were a change in strategy, the implementation of a new operating model, and the appointment of learners to improve the engineering skills pipeline.

Eskom denied that managers were given aggressive employment targets, saying the appointment of learners were consistent with Eskom’s shareholder compact for the past years prior to 2012.

Eskom also denied that many of the appointments were focussed on ensuring that Affirmative Action/Employment Equity targets were met.

However, MyBroadband has seen documentation from Eskom which clearly specified which race and gender each new appointee must be.

A large ratio of the positions was only available to black females, while some of the positions were “disability appointments”.

Eskom said its employees are productive

MyBroadband has received complaints from Eskom managers that this recruitment drive has led to many employees sitting at work without doing anything productive.

They said many technical employees at Eskom do not have the required skills to do their work.

Eskom Chief Operating Officer Jan Oberholzer said in October last year that the productivity at Eskom is much lower than what it used to be, and that this is a big concern.

He said that 11 years ago, Eskom employed less than 30,000 people. It is now sitting at 44,000 employees, and the company is also paying for contractors to keep the lights on.

Eskom’s national spokesperson Sikonathi Mantshantsha acknowledged last week that the company “has indeed had a lot of people that should never have been here”.

When asked about some employees not doing much work, however, Eskom denied that many of its staff members are not productive at work.

The company did, however, say that it has a signed-off workforce plan that provides the numbers per division.

“The Workforce plan is currently under review to improve productivity and costs efficiency drive,” Eskom said.

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Eskom denies massive recruitment drive focussed on Affirmative Action