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Eskom puts 1.5% wage increase to unions

Wage negotiations between unions and Eskom resumed on Monday, with the power utility putting a 1.5% increase offer on the table.

The power utility said the offer was on condition of the acceptance of amendments to some of the conditions of service, such as transfer benefits, overtime payment rates and travel time.

But the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), which has a majority representation in the company, described the below-inflation as an “insult” to its members. It said any offer below the inflation rate was no different from no increase at all. The inflation rate is currently at 3.2%.

The first round of talks had ended earlier this month, with Eskom not putting an offer on the table. The power utility said its position would depend on labour’s response to several proposals including on shift allowance, leave, housing and danger allowance, as well as pay equity, according to the unions involved in the talks.

The NUM and the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) is demanding a 15% wage increase, while Solidarity has asked for a 9.5% hike.

Eskom earlier asked the unions to revise down their demands. 

The unions are negotiating a new three-year wage deal, while Numsa is pushing for a one-year deal. The talks take place at a time when the power utility is battling to stabilise its weak balance sheet and rising debt levels.

Some of the demands, apart from the pay hikes, include upward adjustments to benefits such as maternity and paternity leave, as well as a range of other allowances. The NUM is calling for a housing allowance hike from R3 500 to R7 000, while Solidarity is asking for a work-from-home allowance of R1 000.

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