Eskom, unions fail to find common ground

Union members protest outside Eskom's Megawatt Park office complex in Joburg demanding salary increases last week. Negotiations are dragging on.
Union members protest outside Eskom's Megawatt Park office complex in Joburg demanding salary increases last week. Negotiations are dragging on.
Image: Deaan Vivier/ Netwerk24 / Gallo Images

Eskom and its three unions failed to reach an agreement in salary negotiations, with the power utility's officials now seeking the board's intervention, leading to another three-day round of talks.

Eskom's 4.7% wage offer tabled on Tuesday was met with a 9% counter-offer from the unions, which will be taken to the board on Monday before negotiations resume in Woodmead, Johannesburg two days later.

Following three days of meetings characterised by caucus breaks, unions have nothing to take back to their members this weekend.

Eskom spokesman Khulu Phasiwe said: "Eskom is led by a responsive and responsible leadership and therefore the company will do everything possible to help resolve the current impasse."

The National Union of Mineworkers chief negotiator, Helen Diatile said for the sake of protecting jobs, they entered into these negotiations despite Eskom having failed to send an "empowered delegation" with a mandate to make decisions.

"Eskom came with their hands tied behind their backs, there's nothing they could provide and it's a disappointment because we had requested that they bring people who can make decisions," Diatile said, accusing the power utility of playing games.

National Union of Metalworkers of SA general secretary Irvin Jim stopped short of accusing Eskom of negotiating in bad faith.

"We as unions have cut every activity to focus on this and it's bad that it's Eskom's board that's delaying this process," Jim said.

He said they expected Eskom to respond in detail to their submissions next week as their current delegation was unable to do so during this round of negotiations.

"We can confirm that we've moved from 10% to 9%," Jim said yesterday.

Solidarity's Tommy Wedderspoon said they were "extremely disappointed" because Eskom was unable to respond to their counter-offer.

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