Union declares war with Eskom

2011-09-09 11:02

Marches and pickets planned by the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) were “the beginning of big wars to come” with parastatal electricity supplier Eskom, the union said.

“The working lives of Eskom management will never be the same again. They will have sufficient stress to deal with,” said spokesperson Job Matsepe.

NUM, the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) and Solidarity were demanding a 13% wage increase.

Talks with Eskom deadlocked on Wednesday, with the employer offering 7%, backdated to July 1.

Matsepe said Eskom was resistant to a minimum service level agreement.

Such an agreement would allow certain workers to go on strike, but prevent core employees essential to the functioning of the company from downing tools.

Eskom spokeswoman Hilary Joffe denied that Eskom was opposed to this type of agreement.

“In the past, we have had that agreement, but it has since lapsed. Eskom has negotiated with unions towards making a new one, but there is not one in place at the moment.”

A strike by Eskom workers would not therefore be legally recognised.

NUM also demanded that Eskom not impose a provident fund scheme on its workers.

“Under a provident fund scheme, the risks associated with fluctuations in the economy are on the worker. Under the previous scheme, it was the employer who absorbed the risks,” Matsepe said.

Joffe said that Eskom had its own independent pension scheme, on which the employer and employees had equal representation. Any changes to the scheme would have to be proposed by these trustees.

NUM members would converge in Durban on Saturday to hand over a list of demands to Eskom.

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