Eskom could be hit with yet another labour crisis, with even more employees demanding wage rises and bonus payments amid its financial difficulties.
Business Day can reveal that 6,700 line managers and senior engineers, also known as the Management, Professional and Specialists (MPS) in bands 14 to 16, have sent letters to Eskom pertaining to the demands.
This employee band is below mid-management.
The action comes as Eskom is still battling to conclude a wage deal with the majority of its employees three months into talks with trade unions representing lower-ranking workers.
The MPS employees want the same wage increases Eskom offered workers covered in the collective bargaining forum.
Eskom and unions have provisionally agreed on 7.5% wage increases for 2018, 7% for 2019 and 2020, and R10,000 once-off payments and housing allowance hikes based on the consumer price index. The power utility would be plunged into further financial turmoil if the MPS employees succeed with their demand. It is not clear how much their salary demands would cost the power utility.
Among the priority issues listed in the memos and letters containing the workers’ demands are explanations from Eskom on "the origins of the over-bloated headcount and why MPS band must suffer".
The employees have also demanded that Eskom CEO Phakamani Hadebe address all staff on matters concerning the employees’ role in the firm.
Although Eskom said it had not received the demands, National Union of Mineworkers branch leaders for Arnot Power Station and the Highveld region said the issues had also been raised during wage negotiations in the bargaining forum, but Eskom would not entertain them. The employees in the MPS band recently won a case against Eskom at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration, where they fought to be included in the bargaining forum structure.
Although members of the group were still not allowed to belong to a union, the award would have ensured that their working conditions formed part of the issues tabled during the wage negotiations.
Eskom has taken the matter on review at the Labour Court.