The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has vowed to continue to fight against the “apartheid” wage gap and high executive salaries at Eskom, despite a recent court ruling that favoured the power utility’s small wage offer against demands by three unions for a larger increase.
The union made the remarks in a statement to The Citizen yesterday, in reaction to Eskom’s announcement that the Labour Court had confirmed its 2013/14 financial year final offer of 5.6% by upholding a CCMA arbitrator’s award to Eskom. The court also dismissed an application by the NUM and Solidarity for review.
The deadlock was reached during wage negotiations, where Eskom made its final offer across the board and other employee benefits for the financial years 2013 and 2014.
The offer was rejected by three unions, which stuck to their guns, demanding wage increases of 39% (NUM); 44,3% (Numsa) and Solidarity’s 20.1% increase demand.
When the matter went to the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), the arbitrator ruled that Eskom’s offer was fair and reasonable mainly due to the fact that Eskom was funded through regulated revenue.
The arbitrator said if Eskom acceded to the unions’ demands, it would adversely have affected the utility’s revenue stream and potential risk exposure.
But the unions did not give up the fight and took the matter to the industrial court for review, which last week upheld the arbitrator’s award in favour of Eskom.
The NUM’s national spokesperson, Livhuwani Mammburu, said while they respected the court ruling, the union did not think that the side of the workers was even considered. “The ruling is another unfortunate tragedy for the poor workers.
“When one person in the executive walks away with millions, it is seen as normal. Eskom has huge income differentials and is not doing anything to close the apartheid wage gap. Eskom has consistently refused to close the income differentials, and continue to widen the apartheid wage gap,” Mammburu said.
He said they hoped that the ruling would not encourage Eskom to be hostile in future negotiations.
“The majority of workers at Eskom still earn poverty wages and the NUM will continue to fight for a living wage.”