Eskom strike could mean massive blackouts

Parliament has warned that a strike at Eskom could have catastrophic effects for the country, and urged all parties to work together to avoid this from happening. This is according to a report in the Sunday Independent newspaper.

According to the newspaper the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) said that Eskom and unions have been in a four year battle as to who qualified as an essential service worker.

Employees who are engaged in essential services have limited rights to strike under the Labour Relations Act.

Eskom and unions will meet this week to negotiate the essential services issue at the CCMA.

Despite the potential dire consequences, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) did not rule out the possibility of a strike at Eskom.

NUM said it is well aware of the consequences of a strike, but that some issues needed to be resolved. These included essential services determinations and wage negotiations.

Previous NUM demands on Eskom

On 4 August 2014 the National Union of Mineworkers handed over a memorandum to Eskom, demanding a 12 percent across-the-board salary increase.

“We, the exploited workers of Eskom organised under the banner of the revolutionary home of all energy workers, the NUM, gathered here today in our numbers, have decided to raise our concerns with you through this memorandum,” the union said in the document.

NUM spokesman Livhuwani Mammburu said its members also wanted a housing allowance of R1000 per month for every employee in the bargaining unit.

NUM members also demanded immediate action from the power utility, to reach agreement on the Minimum Service Agreement (MSA).

NUM also wanted Eskom workers to have the right to strike. “Eskom workers are being declared as providing essential services. Hence they are prevented from embarking on any form of industrial action to express their frustrations about the arrogance of Eskom management when dealing with issues affecting them,” said Mammburu.

The full report is available in The Sunday Independent newspaper from 22 March 2015.

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Eskom strike could mean massive blackouts