Numsa throws Eskom ultimatum on wage negotiations

JOHANNESBURG - Trade unions say they will not sign any wage agreement with Eskom, if the power utility intends dismissing some workers. 

Eskom wants to take disciplinary action against some workers allegedly involved in sabotage, unlawful strike action and disruptions at power plants. 

Eskom and the unions are involved in protracted wage negotiations and there’s still no end in sight to the negotiations that has been dragging on for more than two months.

Just as the three unions were about to sign the last offer this week, negotiations stalled again.

Eskom wants the unions to agree that it can take disciplinary action against its members, which could lead to dismissals.

Numsa's already threatening to cancel wage agreements if the power utility takes disciplinary action against striking workers.

“If they don’t remove this clause then we’re within our rights to pursue avenues that’ll allow us to embark on a legally protected strike,” said Numsa’s spokesperson, Phakamile Hlubi-Majola.

“We’ve called on a meeting with Pravin Gordhan. If he meets with us we hope he’ll be able to settle this deadlock so that we don’t have to pursue this cause of action. Nobody wins if we go on a strike.”

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The strike action by workers forced Eskom to implement load-shedding.

It also threatened energy supply at plants with access to the facilities blocked‚ preventing coal deliveries.

The power utility says it wants workers who did not report for work during the strike, to explain the reasons for their absence without leave.

Eskom says each case will be dealt with individually.

“The industrial action was illegal. In terms of Eskom we’re deemed an essential service. As a result, workers are not allowed to take any kind of industrial action,” said Eskom’s Dikatso Mothae.

Eskom’s last wage deal guarantees workers wage increases of 7.5-percent this year, seven percent the two following years, as well as a once-off cash payment of R10, 000.

It also offers workers a CPI-linked housing allowance for three years.

There's no certainty if and when the meeting between unions, Public Enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan and the Eskom board will take place to resolve the latest disagreement.