JOHANNESBURG - Three unions are meeting about a possible strike at cash-strapped parastatal Eskom.
The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) and Solidarity are all threatening to shut down the power utility.
The unions are unhappy that its members were not given any pay increases this year.
Solidarity declared a dispute with Eskom after the power utility failed to turn up for further negotiations.
The union says it plans to hand over a memorandum to the parastatal’s management in coming weeks.
Solidarity said it also planned to protest and would subject Eskom to pressure, without disrupting South Africa’s power grid.
It said members could not strike as they were deemed essential workers and could be dismissed if they did so.
“The trade union plans its protest actions in such a way as to legally subject Eskom to maximum pressure, without disrupting South Africa’s power grid and the economy,” Solidarity Deputy General Secretary Deon Reyneke said in the statement.
“Employees cannot be expected to fund Eskom’s poor financial management, corruption and the plundering of the Guptas’ and their cronies through a 0% increase.”
Reyneke said Eskom approached the wage talks “in a totally irresponsible way and in bad faith.”
However, the South African Federation of Trade Union (Fedusa)’s General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi disagreed with the notion that workers could not strike.
“The South African Federation of Trade Unions says it disagrees with the notion that Eskom employees can’t go on strike because they’re deemed essential services workers,” Vavi said.
He added that Eskom was punishing its workers.