Eskom negotiations deadlocked — over sabotage charges, not wages
Just as a wage offer was agreed, the unions heard about Eskoms decision to charge workers for unlawful strike action, and so it’s back to the drawing board
The Eskom wage negotiations deadlocked on Wednesday, just as workers accepted the cash-strapped power utility’s wage offer.
Disagreement between the company and trade unions is now over Eskom’s decision to charge workers for sabotage, unlawful strike action and disruptions at power stations during labour unrest they took part in two weeks ago.
The industrial action forced Eskom to implement load-shedding in June and threatened power supply in July as plant operations were negatively impacted, with access to the facilities obstructed, hampering coal deliveries.
Eskom employees are not allowed to take part in strikes as their work is considered an essential service.
Sources taking part in the negotiations on Wednesday told Business Day that unions were ready to sign the wage deal that guarantees workers wage increases of 7.5% in 2018 and 7% for 2019 and 2020, with a once-off cash payment of R10,000. Eskom also offered workers a consumer price index-linked housing allowance for three years, after which the agreement would expire.
The deadlock follows more than two months of negotiations amid Eskom’s worsening financial issues. According to recently posted financial results, Eskom’s sales fell as it recorded a loss of R2.3bn for the year.
This week, members of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) gave their leaders a mandate to accept the new wage deal, according to sources. The third union at Eskom, Solidarity, accepted the wage offer last week.