Durban - About 150 workers from trade unions National Union of Metalworkers SA (Numsa) and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) protested outside Eskom’s Mkondeni site in Pietermaritzburg on Wednesday after rejecting the power utility's offer of a 0% wage increase.

Charles Nongqayi, Branch Secretary for NUM at Mkondeni, said the workers considered the offer a slap in the face and rejected the offer outright.

"It means they do not intend bargaining. The company says they have no money for increases, but the company is the way it is because of mismanagement. Workers cannot be held accountable for that. With the VAT increase and more recently the petrol increase, we the workers cannot survive a day to day living on what they give us now.

"We have embarked on this shutdown and we will remain on shutdown until we get our 15% increase. We will not go inside until the employer goes back to the bargaining table," said Nongqayi.

On Tuesday, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) rejected Eskom’s wage offer of zero percent increase.

In a statement, the unions said Eskom is in “serious financial trouble” with “huge debt” and that it had “wasted billions” through alleged mismanagement.

The unions said it was unfair for workers “to be punished” for decisions of government as a shareholder, the Eskom board and Eskom management which they said have resulted in the situation that Eskom finds itself in.

They said unions would “exhaust all options available” before resorting to go on strike. “We have scheduled pickets during lunch time in different parts of the country where workers will demonstrate their disgust with Eskom for their provocative stance… As workers we are resolute in our demands. Whilst we appreciate some of the challenges confronting Eskom we demand that Eskom must come to negotiations table with an intention to negotiate.”

Eskom had not responded to questions on the matter.

Daily News