Cape Town - Eskom’s generation capacity was expected to remain constrained despite the return of its full workforce after a was reached between labour unions and Eskom on Tuesday – which the power utility said would be a struggle to afford.
Eskom announced an official agreement was reached between the power utility, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) and Solidarity.
The agreement included a 7% salary increase across the board as well as a R400 housing allowance increase and the reinstatement of previous conditions of service which related to overtime, transport, stand-by allowance and many others.
NUM spokesperson Livhuwani Mammburu said members were not entirely happy but they compromised – a key issue that remained unresolved was the apartheid wage gap where white employees were earning more than black employees even though they performed the same job.
Eskom spokesperson Sikonathi Mantshantsha said the signed agreement paved the way for a full return to work of all employees, but even with the full workforce back, the system would still take some time to recover.
“As a result of the strike, maintenance work has had to be postponed, and this backlog will take time to clear,” Mantshantsha said.
Eskom urged all employees to return to their workstations immediately to relieve the pressure on the system and assist in restoring generation performance negatively impacted by the “unlawful strike”.
However, Mammburu said the narrative being conveyed to the public that members were responsible for Stage 6 load shedding was not the truth.
He said the comments that Eskom workers were cashing in on the country’s load shedding pain was propaganda.
Numsa national spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola agreed: “Workers have not received a meaningful wage increase for four years, yet in this period the contracts for Independent Power Producers (IPPs) and contracts for diesel and coal have gone up astronomically.
Mammburu added the 2021 wage agreement was still not resolved and was currently at arbitration level – the arbitrator was set to make a ruling on this around September.
The University of Johannesburg’s Centre for Sociological Research and Practice (CSRP) said: “The strike brought attention to the one force and constituency that is key to solving the crisis – the working class. These are the producers of energy.”