NUM ‘persuaded’ to lower wage demand at Eskom

BusinessLive reports that the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), which represents the majority of workers at embattled power utility Eskom, has lowered its wage demands from 15% to 12%, saying it was “persuaded” by the cash-strapped utility to do so after it presented its financials to labour. Representatives of NUM, the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa), trade union Solidarity and Eskom management met at the central bargaining forum for a second round of talks, which commenced on Monday and ended on Wednesday.

The last round of talks will run from May 23 to May 25. NUM’s Eskom chief negotiator, Olehile Kgware, said the union was “persuaded by a presentation on Eskom’s finances. We felt that we needed to negotiate in good faith and lowered our demands to 12%. We are now of the view that the organisation can sustain the percentage that we want.”

The wage talks come as Eskom is implementing load-shedding to prevent the national grid from a total collapse. The rolling blackouts have led to factories closing shop, relegating many to the lines of unemployment in a country battling one of the world’s highest jobless rates. In April, NUM, Numsa and Solidarity held a joint media briefing where they rejected Eskom’s offer of 3.75%. The NUM and Numsa initially wanted a 15% pay rise, while Solidarity demands an increase of 3% above the average inflation rate, which advanced to 7.1% in March from 7% in February.

Kgware said: “Eskom did not put any revised offer on the table. The coming round of talks is the last one in terms of the bargaining agreement. But there is a discretionary period that can be given in the event parties feel they can engage further.” He said NUM — which represents the majority of Eskom’s estimated workforce of 42,000 — is committed to reaching a settlement without having to declare a wage dispute. “We need to deal with the negotiations fast so that we can focus on stabilising Eskom,” Kgware said.

by Luyolo Mkentane

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *