Eskom's 0% 'Thatcherism at its best'‚ say unions

General Secretary of NUMSA, Irvin Jim.
General Secretary of NUMSA, Irvin Jim.

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) has rejected an Eskom proposal to settle a wage negotiation impasse via arbitration at the Commission for Conciliation‚ Mediation and Arbitration.

“To put the record straight such a decision has been made without consulting unions and as such it is rejected by Numsa‚” Numsa general-secretary Irvin Jim said.

He called Eskom’s proposed wage freeze “anti-worker and Thatcherism at its best”.

“We have not been consulted on any arbitration process and we regard this open unilateralism as nothing less than the old union-bashing attitude.

“We regard it for what it is‚ adversarial‚ and it will be opposed and defeated.”

Wage negotiations deadlocked last week‚ leading to Numsa and the National Unions of Mineworkers (NUM) to declare disputes. The unions are demanding wage hikes of between 9% and 15%‚ but Eskom has offered 0%‚ citing financial constraints. Numsa‚ NUM and Solidarity are protesting against the wage freeze.

Jim criticised Eskom’s “top-heavy” executive management who they claim was “advocating retrenchment because they are trying to make themselves relevant”.

“In fact it should be the very same top executives who should be targeted for job cuts.”

Eskom confirmed that load-shedding was under way on Friday across the country due to acts of “intimidation and sabotage” at some of its power stations.

Spokesman Khulu Phasiwe said in an update on Twitter just before noon: “Eskom will implement stage 1 load-shedding from 11.30 until 21.00 due to multiple trips of its power generation units.

“Acts of intimidation and sabotage continue today at some of Eskom’s power stations‚ a move that has begun to threaten the security of power supply.

Eskom will continue to provide regular updates about the state of the power system through various media platforms‚” said Phasiwe.

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