Picture: REUTERS
Picture: REUTERS

Power utility Eskom said on Friday that it would implement a 1.5% salary increase from July 1 and adjust some employee benefits, defying union demands for a far larger hike and opposition to the changes.

Wage talks between the unions and Eskom ended earlier in June without agreement and arbitration is yet to start.

Eskom’s offer is dependent on savings from benefits, including overtime and travel, where the state-owned enterprise says it has found “excesses”.

Unions rejected the offer after demanding increases of between 9.5% and 15%, well above the annual inflation. Stats SA said on Wednesday that consumer price inflation had accelerated to 5.2% in May 2021, up from 4.4% in April.

A previous pay dispute in 2018 led to electricity supply interruptions, and Eskom has warned the same could happen again.

Eskom said in Friday’s statement that its salary offer would allow it to protect jobs and manage risks to its sustainability.

“The generation, distribution and transmission of electricity are classified as essential services. Eskom employees are therefore legally prohibited from participation in unlawful industrial action,” it added.

Eskom’s three main unions, the National Union of Mineworkers, the National Union of Metalworkers of SA and Solidarity, are yet to respond to the latest development.

Reuters

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