Eskom has been ordered by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) to pay accrued special allowances due to its employees who work at remote power stations, Solidarity sector co-ordinator for electrical Tommy Wedderspoon said on Wednesday.

The allowances relate to medical benefits and the education of employees’ children at boarding schools. According to Wedderspoon, they affect about 1,000-2,000 employees who were encouraged by means of the allowances to work at these remote power stations, which in some cases are nowhere near a town.

He said the allowances had been paid for many years before their unilateral termination by Eskom in November 2017 without Eskom having followed the required consultation process. The payments were part of the conditions of service.

As the utility refused to reinstate the payments, Solidarity took the matter to the CCMA, first through conciliation and mediation and then through arbitration. In terms of the ruling, Eskom will have to pay outstanding amounts due since the 2017 termination.

Wedderspoon said the CCMA ruling stipulates that the conditions of service as per the original employment contracts must also be reinstated immediately. “We welcome the ruling and the fact that Eskom is now forced to take responsibility for its actions,” Wedderspoon said.

“It would appear as if major companies and institutions such as Eskom believe that their employees and trade unions would not notice their making changes to certain conditions of service, and that they would thus be able to get away with such unlawful action. However, we have proven that every condition of service, whether it is rather insignificant in nature or of real significance, is important, and unlawful changes to it will not be tolerated.”  

The ruling in favour of Solidarity was given on December 8. Eskom said in reply to a query on the matter that it has noted the award handed down by the CCMA. “We are currently studying the award and consulting our legal advisors. We will evaluate our legal options and take a decision on how to proceed. All our legal rights are reserved.”

Update:  December 30 2020
This story has been updated with comment from Eskom.


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