Eskom holds back on offering salary hikes as wage negotiations kick off

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Wage talks between Eskom and labour unions got off to a challenging start on Tuesday, with no offer for basic annual wage increases on the table from the power utility, according to a document released by unions. 

Talks with unions the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) and Solidarity are set to continue for a month, until 3 June. 

The NUM and Numsa are demanding a 15% increase, while Solidarity wants a 9.5% hike. 

But on Tuesday, unions said Eskom was "not at this stage in a position to table a possible offer in terms of percentage increase to basic salary". Its position, said the unions, depends on labour's response to several proposals including on shift allowance, leave, housing and danger allowance, and pay equity. 

The NUM had also asked for an electricity allowance of a 500kWh payment per employee per month. This proposal was vetoed, as was a proposed increase in parental benefits - to six months' maternity leave with full pay, and 10 days' paternity leave. 

Eskom, which is battling financial challenges and high debt, had called for the parties to put the "best interests of the country and its citizens first" as talks kicked off.

The last series of wage talks took place in 2018. At the time, NUM and NUMSA called for a 15% wage hike, while Solidarity wanted a 9% hike.

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