Increase pay or we picket, unions tell Eskom

NUMSA members at their union’s national congress.

THE National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) have called on Eskom to increase workers wages or face a national picket that could possibly affect power supply.

The unions told the media on Tuesday that government has to do everything in it’s power to ensure the power utility is well resourced to meet its demands or the lights will go off.

The pair announced on Tuesday that they would declare a dispute of interest at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), as they exhaust all legal options before declaring a strike.

Wage talks at Eskom deadlocked last week following its failure to table a wage increase offer for workers, while unions demanded between 9% and 15% increase. The beligared power supplier said it would not increase salaries as it tries to keep its expenses low.

The two unions are however not bugging from their demands. NUM and Numsa said members would stage lunch time pickets nation-wide, with the biggest demonstration planned for Eskom’s head office at Megawatt Park in Sunninghill. 

NUMSA General Secretary Irvin Jim. Photo: Supplied.

Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim said workers will be picketing during lunchtime at “If the lights switch off, it will be because workers are exercising their protest in rejection of the 0% offer.”

Jim said the unions, including Solidarity, are taking the legal route by declaring a dispute of interest in order to put an end to the wage negotiation deadlock.

“Eskom declared a deadlock after negotiating in complete bad faith. We are left with absolutely no option but to follow the law to declare a dispute of interest against Eskom management,” he said.

Jim said the unions have taken a stand against Eskom and declared the company as a brutal and hostile employer.

He launched a another attack at the power producer over the signing of Independent Power Producers contracts.

Jim said unions were not consulted in the implementation of austerity measures at Eskom and that they remained firm that the government should do everything in its power to make sure Eskom is resourced.

“But the signing of the IPPs was a reckless decision and the board has failed in its fiduciary duties to act in the interest of Eskom,” he said.

Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe said there’s no cause for concern. He further urged the public to ignore a voice note doing the rounds regarding power outages.

“We’d like to put it on record that there are no plans by Eskom to implement load shedding. We’ve noted some of the plans by some of the workers within Eskom to go on an industrial action, but we’ve activated our contingency plan to keep the lights on,” he said.

Phasiwe added that the power utility was not in a position to increase salaries. He said they would put in place measures to deal any industrial action should the unions go through with their threats.

“Due to the difficult financial situation that the company currently faces, Eskom has decided to offer no salary increases this year. In an effort to ensure security of power supply, Eskom will activate its contingency measures should the industrial action take place,” he said.



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