3 unions threaten blackouts

TRADE unions engaged in bitter wage talks with Eskom have threatened a blanket of blackouts in the country if their demands are not met.

TRADE unions engaged in bitter wage talks with Eskom have threatened a blanket of blackouts in the country if their demands are not met.

The unions have given the power utility until today to agree to their revised demand of a nine percent wage hike.

Three unions - the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), Solidarity and the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) - said they were not backing down from their nine percent demand. They initially wanted 15percent.

Numsa's Castro Ngobese called on Minister of Public Enterprises Barbara Hogan to intervene before "a blanket of blackouts" hits the country.

NUM's Lesiba Seshoka said:"We have given Eskom until Wednesday to respond. We have rejected their revised offer accompanied by a measly R12000 bonus for each employee."

He said the bonus was "nothing" compared to bonuses for management.

Eskom's offer is an eight percent increase on basic salary, a 5,6percent increase to key allowances, and a R12000 per employee once-off ex-gratia payment, paid in two equal instalments - next month and in July next year.

Ngobese said the CCMA commissioner was dancing to Eskom's tune. He said it was obvious the parties had reached a deadlock.

"The commissioner must afford us our right and give us the certificate."

He said Eskom management had set aside huge bonuses for themselves, forgetting other workers. These include technicians and engineers building new power stations.

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