JOHANNESBURG - South Africa’s National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) is seeking a postponement of wage talks with state-run power utility Eskom until next week because it is holding a national congress from Wednesday to Friday, a union source said on Monday.
The source, who asked not to be named, also said that the union is now open to pay increases linked to inflation plus a certain percentage instead of its initial demand of 15 percent.
Africa’s most industrialised economy suffered power outages last week because of what Eskom has said was “illegal protest action” by the NUM and other unions. The unions have denied wrongdoing on the part of their members.
Cutting costs at troubled state entities such as Eskom is a top priority for President Cyril Ramaphosa, and the power cuts and labour dispute will test his administration’s commitment to reforms aimed at putting a struggling economy on a sustained growth path.
There were expectations that wage talks would resume this week on Tuesday after Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan said late on Friday that Eskom would make a pay hike offer after initially saying it could not afford any increases.
Officials from the other two unions, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) and Solidarity, could not immediately be reached for comment.