Solidarity declares dispute with Eskom

2010-06-04 07:38

Trade union Solidarity has declared a wage dispute with electricity

parastatal Eskom.

In a statement, it said wage negotiations between the electricity

supplier and trade unions, including the National Union of Mineworkers and the

National Union of Metalworkers of SA, had “ground to a terminal halt” yesterday

and a dispute had been declared.

“Eskom’s stubbornness in this year’s negotiations is hindering the

process unnecessarily, which has led to a breakdown of trust between employees

and the company,” Solidarity spokesperson Jaco Kleynhans said.

Employees would no longer allow “the wool to be pulled over their


Although the company’s acting chairperson, Mpho Makwana, announced

yesterday that Eskom had posted a R3.6 billion profit for the 2009/10 year, the

parastatal was “pleading bankruptcy” in wage negotiations.

Eskom was offering a 5.5% wage increase while workers wanted 18%.

For the second and third year of the agreement, Eskom was offering an increase

of inflation plus 1%.

Source of tension

Solidarity said employees’ demands for a housing allowance were

creating “a lot of tension” in talks.

“Promises of an improved housing allowance for employees have been

made for several years, but they have not come to fruition. This is while

management received a once-off ‘cost to living’ payment of R60 000 in


In addition Kleynhans said Eskom management now also received a

“cost to living” allowance of R5 000 a month.

While talks started on April 14 so they could be finalised before

the Fifa World Cup kick-off, Kleynhans said Eskom was dragging its feet and only

made its opening offer on May 27.

“The current tension could have been resolved before the

tournament,” Kleynhans said.

Earlier the National Union of Mineworkers (Num) alleged in a

separate statement that Eskom’s profit of R3.6 billion for 2009/10 was money

“received surreptitiously”.

“We demand our share... This is money that has been received

surreptitiously through the refusal to give its own workforce housing allowances

and decent pay.”

The union had referred the matter to the Commission for

Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration.

Eskom could not comment immediately.

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