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Eskom offered protesting workers a 7% increment

By Neelam Rahim

Eskom workers, whose protest forced the country into stage 6 load-shedding this week, claim they can’t set out on their salaries.

As a result, they demanded a wage increase of 12%, which Eskom initially countered with a suggestion of between 4% and 5.3%.

This didn’t fly, sparking a wave of shocking criminal behaviour from strikers — including petrol-bombing the homes of 4 plant operators.

The power utility was locked in an emergency meeting with trade unions on Tuesday, where the new proposal was tabled.

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan jumped by stating that an agreement had been reached within the wage talks. This is often removed from the reality as unions only started canvassing members on the 7% on Tuesday night, 28 June 2022.

Although the statement enraged unions, who felt undermined after the sensitive talks, it seems that union leaders aren’t wholly hostile to the new offer, with consultation meetings with workers likely visiting to see them explain why it’s not a bad idea.

Although the statement enraged unions, who felt undermined after the sensitive talks, it seems that union leaders don’t seem to be wholly hostile to the new offer, with consultation meetings with workers likely visiting to see them explain why it’s not a bad idea.

Last year, Eskom unilaterally implemented 1.5% salary adjustments for workers, resulting in a standoff with unions.

Before that, it signed a house of employees covering the amount 1 July to 30 June 2021 after opening talks with a zero per cent offer.

It secured staffers between 7% and 5% wage hikes, a once-off cash payment of R10,000 and other benefits.

At the start of this year’s round of talks, Numsa and the NUM demanded 15% salary increases, while Solidarity wanted 8.4%.

If accepted by workers, the 7% offer would cushion wages against inflation’s consequences, which stood at 6.5% in May.

In the short-term, though, all parties hope the return to the negotiations table will encourage workers to return to power stations because the country grapples with stage six power cuts.

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