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Eskom unions want reinstated benefits in addition to 7% increase

Unions have labelled the benefits a 'burning issue' for workers as wage talks resume in Sandton

Isaac Mahlangu Senior reporter
Eskom workers protesting at the Duvha power station near Emalahleni. File photo.
Eskom workers protesting at the Duvha power station near Emalahleni. File photo.
Image: Thulani Mbele

The wage negotiations between Eskom and three unions representing its workers got off to a shaky start on Friday as the parties struggled to find mutual ground.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) pushed for an across-the-board offer from the power utility and also demanded that benefits withdrawn from workers last year be returned in addition to the 7% offer tabled by Eskom.

The resumed talks in the Central Bargaining Forum in Sandton, north of Johannesburg, aim to end the protracted wage increase negotiations and workers' strike at various power stations nationwide amid crippling load-shedding implemented this week.

The benefits include double-pay for Sunday shifts and a transport allowance for workers called in from stand-by shifts.

TimesLIVE has established that unions are also pushing for the 7% offer made by Eskom on Tuesday to be on an across-the-board basis, while the power utility wants it to be on a staggered basis, with low earners getting the maximum 7% while high earners get less.

NUM spokesperson Livhuwani Mammburu said the issue of the benefits “is a deal breaker” in the negotiations.

“The changing of the conditions of employment is a deal breaker, as they were unilaterally changed by Eskom last year without an agreement with unions. Members want that to be reversed by Eskom and they say they won't sign any wage agreement [if the benefits aren't returned],” Mammburu said.

He said this was “a do or die matter” for their members.

Mammburu said they were not in favour of a staggered salary increase system as it would divide workers.

“Our stance is clear, we want Eskom to make one solid offer across the board,” Mammburu said.

Numsa national spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola said the issue of benefits was very important in these talks as workers, especially those at power stations, want to see those benefits returned.

“This is a fundamental issue for workers... this is something that affects workers at power stations,” Hlubi-Majola said.

She said this was a big issue as they were now no longer being paid transport allowances.

“Those are the issues that are keeping us from agreeing, until we can resolve those issues which are affecting a lot of field workers, we are going to have a problem,” Hlubi-Majola said.

The talks continue.

TimesLIVE


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