Eskom wage talks: Unions want meeting with Nene, Gordhan

Finance minister Nhlanhla Nene. (Photo: Bloomberg)
Finance minister Nhlanhla Nene. (Photo: Bloomberg)

Having reached a “sensitive stage” in the wage negotiation process, unions representing Eskom workers have asked to meet with Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene and Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan to resolve the matter.

This is according to a statement issued by the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) on Tuesday, following wage negotiations. The union along with Solidarity and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) have agreed to no longer do media interviews to give parties a chance to consult with their members ahead of the meeting.

“We know the public is anxious to hear from us and to get an outcome, but engaging through the media will undermine the negotiation process.

“We remain committed to resolving this dispute. We ask for the public’s patience whilst we attempt to resolve the impasse,” said Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim.

Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe confirmed to Fin24 on Wednesday morning that the unions decided to take Eskom’s proposal to the ministers. The details of the meeting have not yet been given, but unions want to also meet with the Eskom board and CEO. Phasiwe said that it appears that parties are getting closer to reaching an agreement.

Last week Bloomberg reported that the power utility had raised the wage offer to 7%, this after unions rejected a proposal of 6.2%.

Initially Eskom had offered a 0% increase as the power utility is facing financial challenges, but unions had responded with strike action. The strike was called off after Gordhan intervened.

By midday, Treasury confirmed that the minister of finance had not yet received a request to meet with unions. Fin24 is yet to receive a response from the Department of Public Enterprises about the proposed meeting.

*UPDATE: This article was updated on July 11, 2018 at 13:20 to include a response from Treasury. 

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