Numsa to picket at Eskom offices for 'better living wage'

(Gianluigi Guercia, AFP)
(Gianluigi Guercia, AFP)

Johannesburg – Members of the National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (Numsa) at Eskom plan to picket outside the power utility's head office at Megawatt Park in Sandton to demand a better living wage and living conditions.

Numsa is demanding a “substantial salary increase” and a hike in the housing allowance, among other things. It is also looking to establish a one-year agreement which will be adjusted for inflation each year, said Patrick Craven, acting spokesperson for Numsa.

“Workers have a right to picket and hand over a memorandum of their demands. We will respect it and respond to it accordingly,” said Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe. The power utility is in wage negotiations with unions and believes an agreement that covers their demands will be reached.

Phasiwe 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. However, Craven said Eskom has not moved at all. “We want to highlight that fact that Eskom is refusing to make any concessions at all.”

No striking allowed for Eskom workers

Responding to whether service delivery may be impacted, Phasiwe said: “We hope people won’t down tools; the law does not allow it.” He explained that like the police and army, workers at Eskom are essential service providers and are not allowed to go on strike, by law.

Eskom’s argument that workers provide an essential service and are not allowed to strike shows that the company is not prepared to negotiate seriously, said Craven. “Workers managed to avoid load shedding in the past months and at the very least deserve a living wage increase and not a wage cut, which Eskom is suggesting with increases below inflation.

“We will do our best to meet employees half way,” added Phasiwe. He also said workers should remember that Eskom has undertaken a R280bn capital expenditure project which includes the completion of Medupi and Kusile power stations.

The power utility has borrowed funds from international institutions and any profit generated, including the recently reported R4bn, will be reinvested as capital and used to pay back loans. “That has been the premise of discussions with unions,” he added.

“Whether Eskom, a public service provider, has adopted capitalist means to fund itself should not affect the wages of workers,” responded Craven.

ZAR/USD
16.96
(+0.40)
ZAR/GBP
21.15
(+0.44)
ZAR/EUR
19.07
(+0.57)
ZAR/AUD
11.75
(+0.24)
ZAR/JPY
0.16
(+0.59)
Gold
1774.10
(+0.47)
Silver
17.94
(-0.11)
Platinum
809.49
(-1.07)
Brent Crude
42.09
(+1.84)
Palladium
1899.00
(+0.13)
All Share
54617.19
(+1.54)
Top 40
50309.77
(+1.49)
Financial 15
10214.89
(+2.12)
Industrial 25
76156.33
(+1.23)
Resource 10
50768.18
(+1.58)
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes morningstar logo
Company Snapshot
Voting Booth
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
I'm not really directly affected
18% - 1541 votes
I am taking a hit, but should be able to recover in the next year
23% - 2006 votes
My finances have been devastated
34% - 3012 votes
It's still too early to know what the full effect will be
25% - 2188 votes
Vote