THERE is a possibility of a strike by the National Union of Mineworkers and its guardian federation, Cosatu, as a result of the cabinet's recent endorsement of power utility Eskom's tariff hike application.

The NUM, Cosatu's largest affiliate and involved in the industry which consumes the most electricity, yesterday expressed its dissatisfaction with the cabinet's move since it would "fuel the wrath of job losses", and vowed to take this matter up at the next Cosatu central executive committee meeting on November 23.

Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi yesterday said the federation was "quite disappointed" by the cabinet's decision even "before the public hearings took place".

Asked if Cosatu would consider a strike as one of the solutions, Vavi said, "definitely".

NUM general secretary Frans Baleni said his union was not in a position to accept the outcome because of its "implications" and criticised the cabinet's endorsement of a 45percent electricity tariff increase over three years "before the regulatory processes was completed".

He said the NUM was "sad" that such endorsement is done even before an economic impact assessment is completed.

"We are worried that these increases are going to have a negative impact on workers as overhead costs are pushed beyond 30percent in most mines," Baleni said.

He said the NUM called for wider consultation of stakeholders and the consideration of other alternatives than tariff increases.

"There is clearly no question as to who is going to suffer most. There is no question as to who is going to get hurt by the increment and the consequences of cost cutting measures from the industries."

Earlier this month Eskom proposed an average nominal price increase of 45percent a year over a three-year period.