The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) says it will be meeting Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan and the Eskom board in a bid to break the deadlock over protracted wage negotiations at the power utility.
Irvin Jim, Numsa general secretary, said the union wanted to warn Eskom management to withdraw a threat of disciplinary action and dismissal against many of its members for their demonstrations and protests during the negotiations, or else they will embark on a strike.
“That is why we have also resolved to call for a meeting this coming Monday between the board and Minister Pravin Gordhan to deliberate on this matter with an intention to find a solution that can resolve the current deadlock,” Jim said.
“We are hoping to meet with the minister on Monday. If this fails, we will have to consult our members to determine whether to embark on protected strike action. We are confident that the Labour Court will set aside its earlier court order interdicting any strike.”
Numsa on Thursday threatened to go on a massive strike at Eskom over the ongoing wage dispute, saying that the power utility was negotiating in bad faith.
This came as Numsa met with Eskom on Wednesday to respond to the latest wage offer made by Eskom after it took it to its members for ratification following numerous rounds of negotiations as wage talks have deadlocked.
Jim said Eskom’s threats of disciplinary action and dismissals of many of the union members for their demonstrations and protests had dented talks when they were edging closer to reaching settlement on all wage-related issues.
“Numsa is very clear that we do not promote any form of misconduct by our members; we remain open to the use of corrective disciplinary measures if there is real evidence of misconduct. This is the proper course following a negotiated process.
“We will not give Eskom licence to get rid of our members, which is clearly a covert strategy to fulfil an agenda from Eskom to get rid of a large number of workers.
“We are warning Eskom management, the board and government as the shareholder that if they do not withdraw this threat, they leave us with no choice but to exercise our constitutional right to engage in protected strike action in defence of jobs as a last resort.”
– African News Agency (ANA)