Eskom announced on Tuesday that it had reached a wage agreement with three labour unions, bringing to an end what it called a damaging, disruptive and costly wage dispute that has forced it to implement stage six load-shedding.
The power utility said in a statement the agreement with the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) and Solidarity included a 7% wage increase across the board for all employees covered in the central bargaining forum from 1 July to 30 June 2023. The housing allowance will increase by R400 a month.
Eskom said the overall effect of the agreement on its wage bill would be more than R1-billion over the period of the agreement, adding that “this of course will be a struggle for Eskom to afford”.
The signing of the wage deal comes after wage talks deadlocked at the bargaining forum, leading to an unprotected strike at Eskom plants, which resulted in stage six load-shedding being implemented. The utility has cited high levels of staff absenteeism and intimidation of employees who continued to work for its increased capacity constraints.
“Due to the unlawful and unprotected strike, which has caused widespread disruption to Eskom’s power plants, Eskom is still unable to return some generators to service. Eskom is compelled to take this unprecedented step to conserve emergency generation capacity to safeguard the power system,” it said last Friday.
The utility said on Tuesday that although its workforce was now returning to work, “the system will still take some time to recover”.
“As a result of the strike, maintenance work has had to be postponed, and this backlog will take time to clear.”
Eskom implemented stage five load-shedding on Tuesday, which was scheduled to be downgraded to stage four from 10pm until midnight.
Anathi Madubela is an Adamela Trust business reporter at the M&G.