Unions make progress on Eskom's latest offer but deadlock over members being charged

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

Johannesburg - The two largest unions at Eskom have allegedly accepted the revised wage offer in principle, but have deadlocked with the power utility, which wants to charge their members for participating in an unlawful strike, according to three people familiar with the matter.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the National Union of Metalworkers (Numsa) met Eskom on Wednesday to report back, after consulting their members about the revised wage offer made last week under the auspices of a Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) intervention.

According to the latest offer, workers at the state-owned company (SOC) will receive 7.5% wage increases in 2018, 7% hikes in 2019 and 2020 and a R10 000 once off payment.

However, according to people involved in the talks, the unions cannot accept the offer while Eskom wants to charge their members for going on strike and have proposed that the workers instead receive a six-month written warning

Most workers at the power utility are deemed essential services and are barred from striking.

In June, Eskom offered 0% increases, citing its financial woes and the subsequent industrial action at power stations led to a constrained supply of electricity and load shedding, while unions were demanding 15% hikes.

Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan encouraged Eskom executives to re-open the talks amidst the blackouts.

Another union at Eskom, Solidarity accepted the revised wage offer last week.

Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe could not be reached for comment at the time of publication.

Eskom deputy spokesperson Dikatso Mothae told Fin24 early afternoon that by 17:00 she had not received any word of change in development during the talks or any indication of when the talks might conclude for the day.

UPDATE: NUM said in a statement that it is extremely disappointed that parties are not making any progress in the Eskom wage negotiations at the CCMA in Johannesburg.

"Since we started with negotiations this morning, Esokm has been insisting on disciplining workers who participated in the industrial action," NUM said in a statement on Wednesday evening.

"Eskom wants NUM to sign the agreement and thereafter dismiss our members. The NUM will only sign the wage agreement if Eskom removes the precondition of disciplinary action."

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