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Eskom is committed to resolving wage dispute

JOBURG - Eskom is committed to the speedy resolution of the wage dispute between the power utility and trade unions despite a deadlock.

Eskom is committed to the speedy resolution of the wage dispute between the power utility and trade unions despite a deadlock.

“Eskom remains committed to finalise the negotiation process as soon as possible in order to minimise financial hardship for its employees and maintain stability of its operations,” the power utility said.

According to the power utility, it and the trade unions were currently deadlocked and, as a result, had referred the matter to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) in an effort to find a resolution.

The CCMA was expected to meet with all the affected parties next week.

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) was demanding a 12 percent wage increase over one year and R1 000 housing allowance, against the employer’s offer of 5.6 percent.

Meanwhile, the National Union of Mineworkers (Num) has warned that the government parastatal was “sitting on a time bomb” by not allowing its workers to strike.

“If doctors can strike in South Africa, why can’t Eskom workers strike?” Num general secretary Frans Baleni told reporters in Joburg.

“Our members are angry. Eskom is sitting on a time bomb.”

Baleni said workers would be campaigning for a living wage at Eskom.

Eskom workers were deemed essential service employees and were not allowed to down tools and Eskom earlier won a court interdict against a strike. However, Eskom employees downed tools and marched to the power utility’s offices in Sunninghill, northern Joburg, and picketed outside the building.

On 3 July, Numsa gave the power utility 48 hours to respond to their demands for higher wages, failing which it promised to embark on a full-blown strike. Eskom did not respond as they had handed the matter over to the CCMA.

The extent of the disruption of the power supply should the strike go ahead remained uncertain, but Numsa had threatened to plunge the country into darkness, claiming that Eskom was “hiding” behind essential service provisions.

However, the power utility said that any industrial action would be regarded as unprotected and disciplinary action would be taken against any employee who participated in the strike.

Eskom said it was currently not load-shedding but warned that the national power grid was expected to be severely constrained on 8 July and would be so for the rest of the week due to the cold weather conditions throughout the country.

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