THE National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has ended a week-long strike after signing a wage deal with state-owned utility Eskom, the union said on Friday.

The dispute was the latest problem to beset Eskom, which has struggled to meet power demand in SA, which is on the verge of recession and is grappling with a fuel sector strike as well as a potential stoppage in the vehicle sector.

Eskom, which has managed a year without frequent blackouts that have hurt the economy in the past, said in a statement it had signed a two-year wage deal with the NUM and Solidarity union, following overnight talks on Thursday.

The utility said the strike, which started on Monday affecting some of its power plants, had not affected electricity supplies.

"The strike is over," NUM spokesman Livhuwani Mammburu said.

The new deal signed between Eskom, the NUM and Solidarity grants the lowest-paid workers increases of 10%, while other employees will receive an 8.5% raise in line with the NUM’s revised demands.

Eskom had previously offered pay increases of 7%-9% while the NUM, whose members make up a third of the utility’s workforce, had on Tuesday lowered its wage demand to between 8.5% and 10% from 12%-13%. Inflation was 6.3% in June.

Solidarity, whose members were not on strike, said its members had accepted Eskom’s latest offer.

The National Union of Metalworkers of SA, whose members also had not joined the strike, was yet to sign the deal, but had accepted the offer in principle, Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe said.

"We are expecting everything to be back to normal by Monday," Phasiwe said.

The work stoppage coincided with a strike by about 15,000 workers in the petrochemical industry, who downed tools over wages at the end of July.

However, there have been no significant fuel shortages and refineries, including those operated by Shell, BP, Chevron and Sasol, have maintained output, saying they had adequate contingency plans.

Those involved in the oil sector dispute were on Friday due to hold negotiations mediated by labour authorities.

The strikes risk further hurting an economy on the verge of its first recession in seven years, and the Reserve Bank forecasts no economic growth this year, due to a severe drought and falling commodity prices.

Reuters

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