Solidarity accepts Eskom wage offer, will do 'everything in its power' to stabilise grid

Trade union Solidarity says it has accepted a wage offer from Eskom. 

Solidarity is one of three unions locked in long-running wage negotiations with the power utility, which have recently moved to dispute resolution body the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration. 

The offer Solidarity accepted includes a wage increase of 7.5% for 2018 and 7% for 2019 and 2020, with a guaranteed increase equal to the CPI on housing, as well as a "once-off cash payment" of R5 000 after taxes.

In a statement on Thursday afternoon, the union said it would "now do everything within its power to stabilise the power grid".

"Given the current circumstances, it is a very fair offer. For all our members across South Africa, the right thing to do now would be to help prevent the economy from being hampered by an unreliable power supply," said Solidarity chief executive Dirk Hermann.

Hermann called on Saps and Eskom to take action against "criminal elements that sabotage the infrastructure and intimidate workers". 

Eskom had previously said that the constrained power grid was caused, in part, by sabotage and intimidation of workers. 

The other two unions involved in wage negotiations with Eskom are the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa).

A spokesperson for Numsa said on Thursday evening that it could not accept an offer without first consulting members. 

Fin24 could not immediately reach NUM for comment. 

Reached for comment on Thursday evening, Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe said he had read Solidarity's statement. 

"Solidarity has never been a part of the industrial action, but we appreciated that they accepted the offer and hope that it gives the remaining unions the impetus to accept the offer as well," said Phasiwe.

Phasiwe said talks were continuing with NUM and Numsa, but that the tone of negotiations gave Eskom reason to believe that an agreement was in sight.

"We are still at the CCMA, where discussions continue. We are hopeful and remain optimistic for an agreement. [Wednesday] we ended at 22:00 and we are not clear where we will end [on Thursday]. The parties might agree to meet tomorrow [Friday]; it is not clear what the way forward will be," Phasiwe said.

Earlier in the day the power utility again warned that the electricity grid remained constrained with a high probability of load shedding between 17:00 and 21:00.

Eskom avoided load shedding for Thursday evening. 

*Update: This article was updated at 20:50 with comment from Numsa and an update on load shedding. 

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