Unions reject Eskom wage deal and plan more protests: report

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) have rejected Eskom’s latest proposal of a 7% wage increase, and now plan to embark on further protest action against the power utility.

In a joint statement on Thursday (30 June), the unions said they were disappointed by the offer and would push for an increase in the double-digits, News24 reports.

“We demand a two digits salary increase. It has been over emphasised that so long as Eskom management is unwilling to engage on the other more than 15 demands, therefore no agreement is to be reached between Eskom management and both NUM and Numsa,” the unions said,

Members have also requested the unions to provide buses to Eskom’s Megawatt Park headquarters on Friday. The members were calling for the removal of Andre de Ruyter as chief executive, chief operating officer Jan Oberholzer and general manager for people relations Thulane Ngele.

Eskom is offering workers a 7% wage increase to end an impasse that plunged South Africa into its worst blackouts since 2019.

The offer is for a year, people with knowledge of the matter told Bloomberg. The proposed pay rise is on a sliding scale with higher earners receiving slightly less, one of the people said, asking not to be identified because the matter isn’t public.

Eskom, which has R396 billion of debt and survives on government bailouts, raised its offer to break a deadlock that led the utility to cut enough power to supply four million South African homes. The stalled negotiations prompted workers to go on a rampage, torching homes of senior officials and blocking entry into power plants, stymieing electricity generation.

Eskom, which has 42,000 employees, had made an offer of an increase of as much as 5.3% before the call by unions to stay away from work. The protests prompted Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan, who oversees the company and other state-owned groups, to brief the media where he showed photos of the violent attacks by workers.

The utility’s constrained financial situation means Eskom would ‘have to find savings somewhere else’ in order to make a higher offer, Chief Executive Officer Andre de Ruyter said in a briefing on Tuesday.

With further reporting by Bloomberg. 

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