THREE major South African unions had signed two-year wage deals with state power utility Eskom, one of the unions said on Friday, averting potential illegal strikes that could have hit power supply in the country. Solidarity, which represents mostly skilled workers, said that the agreement would see annual pay hikes of 8.5 percent over the next two years, above the current inflation rate of 6.6 percent. The deal had also been signed by the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa), Solidarity said. A source at NUM confirmed the union had agreed to the offer. Numsa officials were not available for comment. Both NUM and Numsa had said their members might embark on wildcat action against Eskom, where workers are not allowed to strike because their services are deemed to be “essential”. – Reuters