Eskom and unions to meet one last time

BL Premium reports that Eskom management and leaders of three unions demanding higher wages at the ailing power utility will engage in an extended negotiation process after parties could not reach agreement during the final round of talks in May. Representatives of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) and Solidarity, together with Eskom negotiators, are set to meet at the central bargaining forum on 13 and 14 June for a final session in the hope for a wage deal. “If we don’t agree then it will be a CCMA issue, but we are very confident that we will agree [on a wage deal],” Eskom spokesperson Daphne Mokwena said. Eskom employees are essential service workers, meaning they cannot go on strike. But this did not stop disgruntled workers from embarking on a wildcat wage strike that deepened the electricity supply crisis in July 2022.

The unlawful industrial action saw Eskom management caving in to the workers’ demands by signing a 7% across-the-board wage deal, which added R1bn to Eskom’s salary bill. As matters reportedly stand, Eskom has offered a 5.25% wage increase, while the NUM is demanding 11%, Numsa is at 12% and Solidarity is at 9.5%. NUM chief negotiator Olehile Kgware said on Friday: “We are hoping that Eskom will table a sound, reasonable offer when we meet again on June 13 and June 14, which we can sell to our members. Our members are highly agitated … as they are struggling to keep up with the rising cost of living.” The NUM held its national shop stewards’ council meeting on Thursday and an official who attended reported that “workers are angry and will from [June 8] be holding pickets across all power stations in the country” in support of their wage demands.

by Luyolo Mkentane
Ref: SA Labour News

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