Pravin Gordhan Picture: GCIS
Pravin Gordhan Picture: GCIS

The stalemate that collapsed wage negotiations at Eskom has ended, with Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan announcing the company has taken the contentious 0% wage increase offer off the table.

Wage negotiations between Eskom and labour unions; Solidarity, the National Union of Mineworkers and the National Metalworkers Union of SA will also resume following Gordhan’s meeting with the parties and the Eskom board on Friday. 

The Public Enterprises Department said in a statement that that it was agreed that “current disruptions at Eskom that resulted in load-shedding since Thursday are not beneficial to either party nor to the country and the economy”.

The developments are a small victory for unions in a long battle with Eskom.

Num and Numsa members have demanded 15% wage increases and picketed outside the company’s offices this week demanding that the company resumes negotiations and reviews its 0% wage hike offers.

Solidarity members have demanded 9% wage increases.

The company also had to enforce stage one load shedding from Thursday, resulting in power cuts in several areas across the country. 

It further warned there was risk for more power cuts over the weekend. 

Coal deliveries to power stations were disrupted, while entrances to Eskom facilities were barricaded.

The meeting between the unions, Eskom and the minister also came at the wake of calls from both sides for negotiations to resume after organised labour lodged disputes at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration, a step that was initiated to open way for the possibility of strike action. 

While Eskom employees are essential service and cannot strike, the unions said they were intending on challenging the provision at the CCMA until a strike certificate was granted.

On Friday Eskom also obtained a court interdict against all forms of industrial action, including acts of sabotage and intimidation against the unions and its members.

Gordhan said the parties agreed that operations would be normalised “immediately” and that production would be resumed to secure electricity supply. 

He also said they committed to “engage on other key issues that impact on the future sustainability of Eskom such as the cost of coal and the impact of policy including the Independent Power Producers programme”.

The unions had also expressed anger at the implementation of the independent power producers programme which they said would lead to mass job losses.