Wage negotiations between Eskom and three unions representing its workers got off to a shaky start on Friday as the parties struggled to find common ground.
The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) pushed for a flat-rate offer from the utility and also demanded that workers’ benefits withdrawn last year be repaid on top of the 7% offer made by Eskom.
The again Talks recorded at the Central Bargaining Forum in Sandton, north of Johannesburg, aim to end the protracted wage-rise negotiations and workers’ strikes at various power plants across the country, which have been carried out this week amid crippling load shedding.
To the benefits include double pay for Sunday shifts and a transportation allowance for workers called up from on-call shifts.
TimesLIVE h at noted unions are also pushing for the 7% offer Eskom made on Tuesday to go through -the-board basis, while the utility wants it to be on a tiered basis, with low earners maxed out receive 7%, while high earners receive less.
NUM spokeswoman Livhuwani Mammburu said the issue of social benefits “is a deal breaker” in the negotiations.
< p>“The change in employment conditions is a deal breaker as they were unilaterally changed by Eskom last year without agreement with the unions. Members want this reversed by Eskom and they say they will not sign any wage agreements [if benefits are not returned],” Mammburu said.
He said this was “one thing stand or die on” for its members.
Mammburu said they are not in favor of a tiered pay rise system as it would divide workers.
“Our stance is clear, we want Eskom to make a solid offering across the board,” said Mammburu. Phakamile Hlubi-Majola, national spokeswoman for Numsa, said the issue of benefits is very important in these talks because workers, especially those in power plants, want to get those benefits back.
“This is a fundamental one Problem for the workers…this affects the workers in the power plants,” said Hlubi-Majola.
She said this was a big problem and they weren’t paid any transportation allowances now.
“These are the issues that keep us from agreeing, until we resolve these issues that affect many field workers we will continue I have a problem,” Hlubi-Majola said.
Talks are going next.
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