A declaration of war. That is how National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) spokesperson Khangela Baloyi described Eskom’s decision to declare a dispute around the current wage negotiations.
This followed Eskom’s decision to suspend talks with unions and declared a formal dispute at the CCMA after negotiations collapsed.
NUM and the National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (NUMSA) initially demanded a 15% wage increase but revised their demands down to 10% and 12% respectively.
Eskom, in turn, made a final offer of 1.5%, which the union rejected. They also stuck to additional demands.
Eskom spokesperson Sikonathi Mantshantsha said they have clearly demonstrated that they do not have the money to meet the unions’ demands.
Eskom has been relying on government bailouts to operate and a large wage increase would further deteriorate its financial position.
NUM’s Baloyi was not convinced and accused Eskom of refusing to bargain with unions.
“We are only on the first day of the third round of talks, and already they are declaring a dispute,” said Baloyi.
He said Eskom wanted to collapse the negotiations from the beginning, and that they will now have to finish the talks at the CCMA.
“We want to inform everyone that we are back to our original demands of a 15% wage hike and all other elements with it.”