Unions reject latest Eskom wage offer

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) and Solidarity have rejected the latest wage proposal by Eskom.

The three unions said in a joint statement issued on Wednesday evening that they are now set to meet with Eskom again on Thursday morning.

They had met with Eskom management through the Central Bargaining Forum to resume wage talks Wednesday.

Earlier on Wednesday Eskom deputy spokesperson Dikatso Mothae told Fin24 that an offer was presented, but Eskom is of the view that this is the first of three days of wage talks.

"As far as we are concerned there are still two days of negotiations left in the talks and we would like to leave an opportunity for Eskom and the unions to settle on a mutually agreeable increase,” said Mothae.

Last week the unions jointly proposed a plan for how Eskom can reduce cost drivers, while also generating enough money for wage increases and guaranteeing the long-term sustainability of the state-owned power utility.

The unions asked for a 9% wage increase for 2018; an 8.6% increase for the second year; and an 8.5% increase for 2020.

Eskom, on the other hand, offered a 5% wage hike for 2018; an inflation plus 0.6% increase for 2019; and an inflation plus 0.7% for the third year.

In their joint statement the three unions said Eskom's latest offer was not something they could take back to their members for consideration.

"Once again we have called on Eskom to take this process seriously. When you consider the individual demands of the unions since these talks started, we have made major concessions and compromised on our positions. The leadership of all unions have demonstrated commitment by ensuring they are available for engagement," reads the statement.

"In comparison, Eskom has wasted a lot of time and they have not yet made any serious proposal which our members would accept. The Eskom board and the group CEO Phakamani Hadebe continue to snub the process, and they have not bothered to attend any of the talks."

According to the three unions, Eskom claims that the industrial action which workers participated in two weeks ago cost the power utility R50bn in damages.

"Our wage proposal in comparison will cost them only R1.2bn. Surely if Eskom was determined to settle the strike they would simply accept the proposal which has been made by all unions so that we can resolve the dispute. Instead they have once again requested more time to consult with their principles. In the spirit of trying to resolve the impasse, we have given them time to consult."

The three unions said they are hopeful that Eskom will bring "something meaningful" to the table on Thursday.

"We are eager to see this process resolved as soon as possible," their statement concludes.

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