Unions reject Eskom’s ‘final’ wage offer

 ·26 May 2023

Eskom has concluded its third – and what was supposed to be final – round of salary negotiations with unions – but has agreed to set up a fourth round in June.

According to the power utility, its three recognised trade unions, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) and Solidarity, concluded the third round of salary negotiations on 25 May.

Eskom said these negotiations have progressed “relatively well” with “significant movements” being made.

Following the most recent negotiations, NUM and NUMSA revised their demands to 11% and 12%, respectively, whilst Solidarity revised its demand to 9.5%.

Eskom has also revised its offer and made a final offer of 5.25%.

However, this was rejected by all three unions.

Originally, NUM and NUMSA requested a 15% salary increase while Solairty requested a 10.1%, Eskom responded to this with a 3.75% offer which was later increased to 4.5%.

On top of the wage increase, the union demanded:

  • Housing allowance to be raised to R7,000, and employees to be allowed to buy houses anywhere in the country;
  • Medical aid to shift to 80% (20% contribution by employees);
  • Cellphone allowance of R1,000;
  • R1,500 electricity allowance;
  • Once-off R1,500 essential worker or danger allowance, as well as a separate voltage work allowance on a sliding scale;
  • Performance bonus set at 25% of annual salary;
  • R20,000 study benefit per child; and
  • R10,000 car allowance through Eskom’s so-called vehicle X-scheme

Negotiations have been taking place since late April.

Eskom said, however, that the parties have reached a settlement on the amendment of the Grievance and Disciplinary Procedures.

“As a custom, the negotiations take place over three sessions of three days each; however, this year, all parties agreed to hold a fourth round of negotiations on 13 and 14 June 2023 with the view that there are prospects of reaching a settlement at the Central Bargaining Forum (CBF),” said the power utility.

“Eskom is hopeful that it and the labour unions will find each other for the benefit of the company and in the best interest of the country.”

Wage negotiations come as the company struggles to produce enough electricity, and demand is expected to increase these coming winter months – pushing load shedding up to stage 8.

The Institute of Risk Management South Africa (IRMSA) has warned about the potential impact of stage 8 load shedding during mid-winter in South Africa.

According to the institute, this poses a significant risk to various sectors of the economy, with potentially disastrous economic consequences.

“There are significant risks posed by the potential implementation of stage 8 mid-winter load shedding, announced by Eskom. This development, we believe, presents a grave threat to the country’s fragile economy and social fabric and calls for immediate action from risk managers across all sectors,” it said.

Read: Load shedding changes for Joburg – with some businesses exempt

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