The biggest labour group at South Africa’s Eskom accused the power utility of disregarding rules around wage negotiations by implementing its final offer to workers.
Eskom will implement a 1.5% basic wage increase from July 1, funded through savings realized from reviewing employee benefits, according to the company.
The utility declared a dispute with unions earlier this month and the deadlock is now being considered by the country’s Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration, for which it hasn’t reached a conclusion.
“Eskom is acting unlawfully by implementing before all the processes are exhausted,” said Khangela Baloyi, energy sector coordinator for the National Union of Mineworkers.
“The only recourse we have is compulsory interest arbitration. Eskom is taking that away.”
Once the CCMA makes it findings they will be binding on all parties, Eskom spokesman Sikonathi Mantshantsha said in a reply to questions. “Any party dissatisfied with the process can take the matter on review at the Labor Court.”
The loss-making utility that has subjected the country to intermittent outages for more than a decade, partly because of poor maintenance at its plants, is struggling under a debt pile of R401 billion.
It considered wage increases of as much as 15% demanded by labour at the start of the negotiations as unaffordable.