Eskom strike threat averted as talks continue

A POSSIBLE strike today by Eskom workers has been suspended while talks between the employer and unions continue, the National Union of Mineworkers said yesterday.

A POSSIBLE strike today by Eskom workers has been suspended while talks between the employer and unions continue, the National Union of Mineworkers said yesterday.

Eskom has offered workers a 10,5percent wage increase but put off a demand by the unions for a R5000 housing allowance.

"The parties are currently engaging each other on the housing subsidy as mandated by members during the weekend's consultation process," said NUM spokesman Lesiba Seshoka.

"Members have indicated that they prefer the issue of a housing subsidy to be part of an agreement reached at Eskom rather than be treated as a separate issue."

Eskom and trade unions NUM, the National Union of Metalworkers, and Solidarity are in negotiations at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration.

Solidarity spokesperson Jaco Kleynhans said the housing subsidy is the major issue under discussion.

"The housing issue is the make or break issue," he said.

He said workers would probably agree to the 10,5percent wage increase if their other conditions were met.

NUM had approached its members yesterday morning with the wage offer but were met with anger.

Seshoka said some workers had been told the union leadership had already signed an agreement with Eskom without first consulting them.

"It caused pandemonium in the membership," he said.

At that meeting, members gave union leaders new mandates and sent them back to negotiations. Seshoka said workers would not be applying to the CCMA for a certificate to strike.

He refused to rule out the possibility of a strike. - Sapa

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