Still no deal in Eskom wage negotiations

Eskom and the unions representing workers have not yet reached a wage deal, nearly a month after negotiations began.

The parties were last month drawn to the negotiating table following the intervention of Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan, in a bid to avoid further industrial action that could have led to crippling power outages.

The cash-strapped power utility has since shifted from its zero percent wage increase offer, to a three-year wage increase proposal, which unions are yet to accept or reject.

This week Eskom put forward its revised offer, which is a 7.5 % increase for the first year, followed by a 6.5% and 6.25% hike for the second and third years respectively.

The proposed package comes with no bonus. The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) wants a bonus of 12%.

“We have adjourned the talks to consult with our members, and also seek a meeting with the ministers of public enterprises and finance,” said NUM spokesperson Livhuwani Mammburu on Friday.

READ MORE: Eskom wage talks: Unions want meeting with Nene, Gordhan

A source close to the negotiations said Eskom board chairman Jabu Mabuza told the unions during one of the meetings that if they wanted a three-year wage agreement, they must work hard for it.

“That is a very arrogant position,” said the source.

When negotiations began, Eskom at first said that it wouldn’t be able to afford any increases due to strained finances.

This led to pickets by unions at power stations around the country. Eskom subsequently implemented load shedding, saying this had been caused, in part, by sabotage and intimidation of workers by strikers. Unions have denied the claims.

Both the NUM and the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) have described the negotiations as being at a “sensitive stage” — saying they would not be making any public statements on the process until they have concluded consultations with members.

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