Wage negotiations at Eskom are expected to continue today after trade unions rejected a 4.7% wage increase offer yesterday – as the utility suffers from the headache of lack of coal supply at six of its power stations and the familiar threat of load shedding.
The inflation rate in South Africa rose to 4.5% in April from 3.8% in March and below market expectations of 4.7%.
Unions didn’t say how much their counteroffer was, but it is believed it was not far off the original 15% demand across the board.
The power utility offered a four-year wage deal with a guaranteed increase based on inflation, which was not enough for the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa), National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and Solidarity.
Numsa spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola said yesterday: “It is Eskom’s proposal that all other demands regarding an increase in housing allowance, payment of performance bonuses, insourcing and all other benefits will not be improved and remain unchanged.”
Numsa was also upset that Eskom senior officials were not at the negotiating table.
Hlubi-Majola said: “At the meeting with Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan last Friday, we called for a high-powered delegation with the power and capacity to take decisions.
“We are disappointed that Eskom came to the wage talks without the presence of some board members or the presence of the Group CEO Phakamani Hadebe.
“This was one of the fundamental conditions of the opening of wage talks. We want to engage but we cannot engage with people who do not have the power to take decisions.
“We demand the presence of the GCEO at the meetings. We call on the top management of the SOE to take these talks seriously in order to ensure that we can resolve the impasse as soon as possible,” she added.
Eskom did not respond to Numsa’s demand and instead focused on load shedding, calling for the public to continue lightening the load on the power grid.
Should rotational load shedding be implemented, it would be for a period of up to four hours in either stage one, two, three or four. Stage one requires 1 000 megawatts (MW) to be rotationally load shed across the country, stage 2 requires 2 000MW, stage 3, 3 000MW and stage 4, 4 000 MW.