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NUM union to go on strike at power utility Eskom in August

NUM's David Sipunzi said the NUM members had the right to strike and that the law was not a barrier.

Picture: GCIS.

JOHANNESBURG - The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said on Friday its members will go on strike at power utility Eskom, the sole provider of electricity in Africa's most industrialised country, from 8 August.

The NUM claims almost 15,000 members at Eskom, almost a third of the utility's 48,000 employees including contractors, drivers and electricians, but it was not clear what impact a strike would have on the firm's ability to keep the lights on.

"The strike will start on 8 August," NUM General Secretary David Sipunzi told a media briefing.

State-run Eskom said arbitration between unions and the utility were set to continue next week and spokesman Khulu Phasiwe urged the staff not to take part in the strike because the law prevented essential service workers from downing tools.

"The talks have not broken down," said Phasiwe.

Sipunzi said the NUM members had the right to strike and that the law was not a barrier.

"This is why they do not want to negotiate seriously with us, they are hiding behind that," he said.

NUM said it had reduced its demands to 13 percent for the lowest paid members from 18 percent and to 12 from 16 percent for the rest.

The union said Eskom was unmoved from a 7 percent offer which Sipunzi described as "an insult".

Phasiwe said Eskom had moved from an initial offer of 5 percent to 7 percent for the highest paid workers adding that it was offering a 9 percent increase to the lowest paid workers.

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