An Eskom worker checks power lines. Picture: MARIANNE SCHWANKHART
An Eskom worker checks power lines. Picture: MARIANNE SCHWANKHART

Eskom workers have until Wednesday to accept or reject a new wage offer that includes one-off cash payments of R10,000. This comes after the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) intervened during the wage talks between Eskom and unions, crafting a settlement proposal on Friday.

Talks between Eskom and unions hit a stumbling block after the cash-strapped power utility said it would not pay bonuses as part of the wage increase package. Workers demanded 12% of their annual pay as bonuses.

The negotiations have dragged on for more than two months. According to the CCMA proposal seen by Business Day, wages would rise by 7.5% in 2018 and 7% in 2019 and 2020. Housing allowances would be adjusted in line with consumer price inflation for the three-year period of the agreement.

However, the document stipulates that unions "reserve the legal right to challenge the non-payment of bonuses". Unions argue that workers have met their contractual performance-agreement targets and therefore deserve bonuses.

The National Union of Metalworkers of SA says it is planning meetings with members across SA to discuss the proposal in detail. "If our members are happy with the latest proposal then we can sign the agreement," Numsa spokeswoman Phakamile Hlubi-Majola said.

Last week trade union Solidarity signed an earlier agreement tabled by Eskom that offered workers a cash payment of R5,000. However, Solidarity members would still receive whatever increases are agreed to during the final settlement. The National Union of Mineworkers said it was engaging its members on the offer.

The CCMA commissioners who prepared the settlement proposal hope the deal will be signed on Wednesday when parties reconvene. The signing of a wage agreement would be a relief for the struggling power utility, which reported major financial losses two weeks ago.