Numsa signs Eskom wage deal after months of talks

After months of negotiations the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) has signed a wage agreement with power utility Eskom.

In a statement on Thursday morning, Numsa General Secretary Irvin Jim said the three-year agreement includes a 7.5% increase for year one, and a 7% increase for years two and three, as well as a once-off cash payment of R10 000 after tax for all employees. Housing allowances will increase by CPI for each year of the wage agreement.

The union represents about 10 000 workers at the power utility. The two other recognised unions at Eskom, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and Solidarity, have also signed the agreement. 

"We thank our members for demonstrating militant discipline in the face of extreme provocation by the employer," said Jim in a statement. "We started at 0% and thanks to your efforts, we have secured an increase. We are also grateful to the negotiating team which worked tirelessly to resolve the impasse."

Eskom Group Executive for Human Resources, Elsie Pule said in a statement the end of the wage talks means the power utility could again "focus on the Eskom of the future and building a sustainable business to power the nation and grow the economy."

From 0% to 7.5%

Earlier this year the cash-strapped state-owned enterprise offered its employees a 0% increase, saying it did not have money to increase wages. This led to months of on-and-off talks between unions and management, as well as strikes, pickets and the threat of a long-term shut down. Numsa had demanded a 15% wage hike as its opening position. 

According to Eskom, the sporadic load shedding implemented in mid-June was the direct result of industrial action by striking workers. Thava Govender, its group executive for generation, told a Parliamentary oversight committee earlier in the week that industrial action over the past year was the worst he had experienced in his 28 years at the power utility, describing it as “unprecedented”.

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