Eskom to respond to Numsa's demands within seven days

Johannesburg – Eskom has agreed to review a memorandum of demands handed over by the National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (Numsa) at a picket held outside the power utility’s head office at Megawatt Park on Monday.

Workers demanded to see chief executive Brian Molefe, who was in Cape Town for business, according to his representative Elsie Pule, group executive of human resources. Upon receiving the memorandum, Pule said Eskom would respond to demands within seven days.

Numsa regional secretary Sizwe Dlamini read out the list of demands to members of Eskom’s executive committee. It includes a housing allowance of R5 000, a salary increase of not less than 20% and a one-year wage agreement to be adjusted for inflation annually.  

So far Eskom has introduced funeral cover for workers’ dependants, as well as boarding fees for grade R learners in remote areas. The power utility also increased maternity leave pay from four to five months, and is proposing 30% pay for six months. However, the union is demanding a full six months' maternity pay, said Vuyo Bikitsha, electricity sector coordinator for Numsa.

Read also: Only a strike will move Eskom - Numsa official

Bikitsha said it was important to get all workers, including managerial employees, at the picket line. “We don’t want anyone working. We want Eskom to come to the negotiating table and take it (their demands) seriously,” he told Numsa members.

Eskom recently reported "sound financial results" for the year ending March 2016. All financial ratios have increased and Eskom is doing well, Bikitsha told Fin24. Eskom proposed a 7% increase across the board, according to Bikitsha. However, Eskom spokesperson Khulu Pasiwe said Eskom’s position has moved from an initial increase offering to 5% to 7% for middle management and 9% for the lowest paid workers.

Sizwe Dlamini, regional secretary of Numsa, reads out the list of demands to members of Eskom's executive committee. (Lameez Omarjee, Fin24)

"How can they only give a 7% increase if more than R792m is shared by bosses as executive bonuses?" Workers toiled hard for profits, reported at R4bn. "We are appealing to Eskom's conscience," Bikitsha told Fin24 earlier.

The workers are willing to down tools and take strike action, along with the National Union of Mineworkers and union Solidarity, if an agreement is not reached by Monday. Negotiations reached a deadlock last Friday. As a result, Numsa laid a dispute with the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration.

Elsie Pule, chief executive of human resources, addresses Numsa members outside Megawatt Park. (Lameez Omarjee, Fin24)

The list of demands includes:

A salary increase of no less than 20%;

A one-year substantive wage agreement;

Banning of labour brokers;

Insourcing of all contract workers;

A housing allowance of R5 000;

An equality ratio of 1:8;

Six months' fully paid maternity leave;

Democratising and underwriting the pension fund;

Increased trade union rights;

Extending the bargaining unit to include managerial employees; and

Paying all members at maximum salary scales. 

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