Eskom and unions on track for pay deal

Eskom workers picketed outside Megawatt Park in Sunninghill on Thursday June 15 2018 against management's decision to come to the negotiation table with a zero percent wage increase.
Eskom workers picketed outside Megawatt Park in Sunninghill on Thursday June 15 2018 against management's decision to come to the negotiation table with a zero percent wage increase.
Image: Penwell Dlamini

Eskom workers have rejected the power utility's 4.7% salary increase offer as negotiations enter day three today.

All three unions representing Eskom workers confirmed yesterday that the offer presented on Tuesday was rejected.

Although unions declined to divulge their latest salary increase demands yesterday, it seemed they were no longer demanding a double-digit salary increase.

National Union of Mineworkers' (NUM) chief negotiator at Eskom Helen Diatile said "a lot of concessions" were made but declined to confirm or deny if they were still demanding a double-digit increase. "As to the two-digit demand, that would be disclosed at the right moment," she said.

Diatile was confident that a resolution would be reached "sooner than later".

National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) general secretary Irvin Jim said they presented a "comprehensive feedback" to Eskom's offer. "We've not moved from our mandates but we've bargained . our approach says 'here are your cost drivers, which if addressed, they would improve your balance sheet."

Day two of negotiations was dominated by caucus breaks, with all parties needing to either solidify their positions or responses.

Unions only presented their response to Eskom's offer after lunch after spending the morning trying to find each other and respond in one voice.

An hour after negotiations started, Eskom needed a caucus break to deliberate over the unions' response to its offer. The power utility's response is now expected this morning.

Eskom spokesman Khulu Phasiwe told Sowetan yesterday that it was in everyone's interest for an agreement to be reached as soon as possible.

"We still have another full day of negotiations [today] and we're very hopeful that we will reach an agreement," he said.

However, there are fears that if negotiations stall, unions may declare a dispute and go on a strike. A two-day protest impacted negatively on the national grid and made Eskom impose load shedding which may continue for another week before it recovers fully.

"This [negotiations] is not about load shedding ., if there's any dispute between employer and employee, the relationship does become tenuous... but it [load shedding] shouldn't happen," Phasiwe said.

Solidarity's Tommy Wedderspoon said it was great unions presented a consolidated view to Eskom's offer. "I believe there'll be good news [today] in the interest of South Africa."

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