Johannesburg - Trade union Solidarity on Friday lowered the wage demand it had given to Eskom.

Solidarity metal, engineering, and electrical industry division head Deon Reyneke said this was done to reduce the gap between the employer's offer and the workers' demand.

The union had initially demanded a wage increase of 12 percent.

“Solidarity is currently demanding a two-year wage agreement involving an increase of 8.1 percent for year one and 9.1 percent for year two,” Reyneke said in a statement.

Eskom was offering a 5.6 percent wage increase for the next three years.

Reyneke acknowledged that the offer was disappointing as it was not on a par with the inflation rate.

The CPI inflation rate was 6.6 percent for May.

The National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) on Tuesday rejected Eskom's offer and announced it planned to demonstrate next week.

Numsa has demanded a one-year wage increase agreement from the power utility of 12 percent across the board and a housing allowance of R1000.

Other demands included a 16 percent incentive scheme and a standby allowance of R100.

Eskom workers affiliated to Solidarity, however, would not be going on strike, Reyneke said.

“Although we are not in favour of Eskom's wage offer, we will not participate in an illegal strike. Our members undertake to keep on working and thereby provide an essential service to the public.

“Solidarity has no other choice but to distance itself from the wage demands of the National Union of Mineworkers and Numsa,” Reyneke said.

Eskom announced on Monday that it had referred negotiations to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).

Solidarity would participate in the CCMA negotiations which were scheduled to begin on July 16. - Sapa