Unions accept Eskom offer ‘in principle’

Eskom’s three unions have “in principle” accepted the power utility’s latest wage offer, they said on Friday.

Solidarity, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) said their members were happy with Eskom’s 9% wage increase and R1 500 housing allowance, but that they had not signed the deal yet.

Eskom initially offered an 8,5% wage increase and a R1 000 housing allowance. The unions had wanted a nine percent wage increase and a R2 500 housing allowance, and threatened to strike if their demands were not met.

Solidarity’s Jaco Kleynhans said the union had been mandated by its members to accept the offer.

“We haven’t signed yet. The CCMA [Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration] process is finished. The only outstanding issue now is the implementation date for the offer.”

He expected the agreement would be signed next week.

Numsa spokesperson Castro Ngobese said his union wanted Eskom to backdate the housing allowance offer to December 1, 2009.

“That is the issue we are dealing with now. Our members have accepted the final offer though.”

Numsa also wanted the CCMA to explain which of Eskom’s workers fell under the essential services category.

“Yes, Eskom was declared an essential service, but surely not all of the workers there provide essential services. They should allow those to strike.”

Numsa members were unhappy with the way the parastatal’s human resources department dealt with salary negotiations.

“They have been arrogant and negotiated in bad faith. We want human resources head [Bhabhalazi Bulunga] removed now, or else there will be blood,” Ngobese said.

Lesiba Seshoka of NUM said members had a “general feeling of acceptance” toward the final offer.

“The general feeling of our members is that they are accepting the offer. There are members here and there who indicated dissatisfaction, but we had to explain to them that in negotiations, it’s a give and take business.”

Seshoka said the nine percent increase was “exactly what we were looking for”.

Bulunga said the company was still dealing with the implementation date.

“We are very happy that we finally agreed on the main issues of wages and housing allowance.”

He hoped the unions would sign the agreement next week. — Sapa

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