/ 15 July 2013

Eskom pay talks stall

The transfer of Eskom’s transmission assets appears to be a sticking point.
The transfer of Eskom’s transmission assets appears to be a sticking point.

"Eskom has declared a dispute which has been referred to the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration after wage talks reached a deadlock, with no movement from the union side," spokesperson Hilary Joffe said on Monday. 

"Eskom had raised its offer to 5.6%, which is the percentage which the National Energy Regulator allowed us in terms of its recent tariff determination." Joffe said Eskom employees were represented by Solidarity, National Union of Mineworkers and National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa).

Wage negotiations began in May. "Eskom is deemed to be an essential service and, in the absence of a minimum service agreement, there is therefore no right to protected [legal] strikes.

"If the dispute cannot be resolved through mediation, it will therefore have to go to compulsory arbitration," she said. Joffe said if workers embark on an unprotected strike employees involved open themselves to potential disciplinary action.

Earlier on Monday, Numsa said the pay talks reached a deadlock.

"We have deferred the matter to a mediation process with a hope and understanding that Eskom will abandon its bullying strategy, and start negotiating in good faith," Numsa said in a statement.

'Spit in the face'
"This process will also inform and guide the next course of action the union should pursue in order to force Eskom to concede to workers' demands." 

Numsa rejected the 5.6% offered by Eskom and said it was a "spit in the face".

Initially Numsa demanded a 20% wage increase. Numsa wanted a R3 000 increase across the board, a R5 000 housing allowance, a one-year collective bargaining agreement, a total ban on labour brokers, and an 80% contribution from Eskom towards medical aid.

Numsa's national sector co-ordinator for basic metals and energy Stephen Nhlapo said: "The rejection of our collective bargaining demand is an underhand tactic and punishment to the union for waging a successful campaign opposing Eskom's ridiculous application for increased electricity tariffs." – Sapa