The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and National Union of Metalworkers SA (Numsa) have put aside their political differences to fight a common enemy, Eskom, which has offered a 0% wage increase this year.
NUM, a Cosatu affiliate, and Numsa, affiliated to SA Federation of Trade Unions, said as workers with the power utility they are facing an onslaught from all sides.
The two unions are adamant about their demand of a 15% increase across the board which should be accompanied by a R2 000 housing allowance hike, the banning of labour brokers, and an end to outsourcing jobs of cleaners and security guards.
Another demand was for a paid six months’ maternity leave and paid single month paternity leave.
In a statement, they said government had adopted an austerity budget that was accompanied by VAT and fuel price increases while Eskom decided to deny workers their well-deserved pay hikes.
“Eskom management and the Eskom board demonstrated that they do not care about workers or their families,” it read.
The unions said their members should not be made to suffer due to the plunder of state-owned enterprises that occurred over the years. They believed Eskom management and its board should take responsibility for these problems but that the workers should be given their increase.
Regarding their unprecedented unity, the unions said they were now guided by the old Marxist slogan that said “Workers of the world, unite; you have got nothing to lose except your chains!”
The statement issued yesterday by NUM spokesperson Livuwani Mammburu and Numsa’s Phakamile Hlubi-Majola read: “The NUM and Numsa leadership are clear that workers united can never be defeated.
“We met yesterday [Tuesday] and our revolutionary consciousness makes us to recognise that without the unity of workers we can never achieve our goals.
“It is for this reason that we have taken the decision to put aside our political differences and to unite against a common enemy whose agenda is the super exploitation of workers at Eskom.”
They said they rejected all measures which would lead to the destruction of Eskom through privatisation.
Previously NUM and Numsa refused to work together after the latter was expelled from Cosatu.