Eskom and trade unions Numsa, NUM and Solidarity were mum about what the unions want to discuss with Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan. Picture: Ian Landsberg/African News Agency (ANA)
JOHANNESBURG - Eskom and trade unions National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa), National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and Solidarity were yesterday mum about what the unions want to discuss with Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan and Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene.

The wage talks seemed to have hit a snag on Tuesday, despite Eskom’s revised offer of a 7.5percent rise. The cash-strapped power utility had initially offered 7percent, while the unions originally demanded a one-year deal, with a 9percent increase. The unions have since revised their demands to 8percent for 2018 and 8.5 percent in the next two years. They also demanded a R500 housing allowance and a 12percent bonus.

Eskom would not confirm the new offer. “The parties have agreed among themselves that we should not reveal the new offer,” said Phasiwe. They would give the unions enough time to convey the new offer to their members, he said.

The unions on Tuesday evening said that the wage talks had reached a sensitive stage and requested a meeting with Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan and Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene.

“The wage negotiations are at a sensitive stage and the NUM, Numsa and Solidarity have requested a meeting with Gordhan, Nene and the Eskom board. The proposed meeting is going to take place as soon as possible. The NUM believes that the proposed meeting will help the parties to resolve their differences amicably and sign an agreement,” NUM said yesterday.

Direct intervention

Numsa acting spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi last night declined to discuss what the unions wanted to discuss with the ministers and the board.

“We have reached a point where we feel we cannot go any further. That is why we require the direct intervention of the ministers and the board,” said Hlubi. She said the date for the meeting had not yet been decided.

Phasiwe yesterday said that following a marathon 13-hour long wage talks on Tuesday, Eskom and the unions were edging closer to a deal. “There is a light at the end of the tunnel But the parties have agreed not to divulge the proposed new offer to third parties until a meeting with the said ministers has taken place,” he said.

As the gap between Eskom and the unions narrows on the wage increase, the demand for a housing allowance and a bonus could be the sticking point in the negotiations. Eskom has publicly said that its employees would not be getting any bonuses this year as part of the utility’s cost-cutting measures.

- BUSINESS REPORT