Unions call for blackout after Eskom wage talks fail

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File: Eskom will hold urgent talks with unions in hopes of ending a wage strike.

JOHANNESBURG - The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the metalworkers&39; union Numsa are threatening to shut down electricity supply after Eskom insisted it will not pay any wage increases.

The unions say they have lost confidence in Eskom’s negotiating team and management.

 

The NUM and the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) walked out of the second round of wage talks on Thursday.

It objected to Eskom&39;s zero-percent increase offer and its use of armed security personnel at the venue of the talks.

"We cannot be expected to talk with the threat of guns hovering over us," said a Numsa statement.

READ: Eskom asks for another tariff top-up

Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe says the utility decided not to increase the pay of any workers, including management, to rein in costs.

“The company is having serious financial problems. For the last ten years or so revenue has grown by about one percent and our costs have shot up quite dramatically over that period. You can’t run an operation as big as Eskom where your revenue is not growing but your costs are. That’s the information that we’ve given to the unions.”

 

Eskom will also not be making any new appointments or paying bonuses.

 

But unions say workers are being punished for management’s inefficiency and wasteful expenditure.

 

The NUM said in a statement it was disgusted by the  "brutal arrogance" shown by the Eskom negotiating team in sticking to "the straight-jacket mandate of 0 percent" despite all the demands from NUM.

Numsa said the Eskom negotiations team had not substantiated its position and refused to disclose how much was being spent on the build programme and legal bills.

"They also refuse to give guarantees that there will be no corruption and mismanagement of the state-owned entity (SOE) going forward.

"We are of the view that we are suffering because of the sins of management, who through their corruption, wasteful expenditure and mismanagement have brought the SOE to the brink of financial ruin."

As a result, the unions are calling for a national shutdown of electricity supply.

"It is a painful decision that the brutal Eskom negotiating team pushed our members to take," the NUm said.

The union called also for the resignation of CEO Phakamani Hadebe.

Numsa said: "There will be no more talks. We are officially headed for a strike."