TWO of Eskom's biggest trade unions have rejected the power utility's revised wage offer of 8,5percent plus a R1000 housing allowance.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), which represents about half of the 32000 workers at Eskom, as well as the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) yesterday rejected the disputed offer outright.

Trade union Solidarity, which mostly represents senior staff at the parastatal, said its electricity council was due to meet this morning to discuss the new offer.

It had been hoped that Eskom's increased offer would end a deadlock within days and avert a potentially damaging strike during the World Cup.

But NUM spokesperson Lesiba Seshoka said yesterday: "Members of our shop stewards' council have rejected Eskom's offer."

Eskom has moved from an initial 5percent wage increment offer to the current 8,5percent, while unions have moved from an 18percent wage demand to 9percent.

Seshoka said the 0,5percent difference in the wage offer was not an issue, but rather the housing allowance.

"We have halved our housing allowance demand from R5000 to R2500, so that is the burning issue right now."

Numsa's shop stewards also met yesterday and the union's spokesperson Castro Ngobese said they, too, had rejected the offer.

Agricultural associations yesterday signalled potential consequences for agriculture should Eskom workers go on strike.

Boikanyo Mokgatle, the relationship and protocol executive with the National Chamber of Milling, warned of possible staple food shortages such as maize meal at retail stores.

Eskom said it expected to sign a deal with the unions in coming days.