Johannesburg - The cost-to-company pay rise of 6.3 percent awarded to Eskom employees was a disappointment, trade union Solidarity said on Monday.

“Solidarity was still prepared to negotiate when the electricity giant declared a deadlock (last year) referring the matter to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA),” spokesman Deon Reyneke said in a statement.

On Friday, the CCMA made an arbitration award to Eskom workers for the wage increase.

In terms of the agreement, employees would get a 5.6 percent increase on their basic salaries, which amounted to a total cost-to-company of 6.3 percent including adjustments on allowances.

According to the CCMA, Eskom's three recognised unions, the National Union of Mineworkers, the National Union of Metalworkers of SA, and Solidarity, initially made demands ranging from 20.1 percent to 44.3 percent.

As Eskom is a designated essential service, its workers are legally prevented from striking.

Reyneke said: “The increase that is now being implemented retrospectively from July 1, 2013 is exactly the same increase Eskom had offered when it walked away from negotiations.”

Solidarity was satisfied, however, that Eskom had relinquished its demand for a five-year wage agreement.

Eskom could not immediately comment on Solidarity's disappointment with the agreement. - Sapa