Eskom offers striking workers a 7% wage increase

Talks between unions and Eskom collapsed last week after the power utility offered workers 5.3%.

Eskom Megawatt Park. Picture Xanderleigh Dookey-Makhaza/Eyewitness News.

JOHANNESBURG - Eyewitness News can reveal that Eskom has offered workers 7% wage increases amid a wildcat strike and deepening tensions with labour.

The power utility was locked in an emergency meeting with trade unions on Tuesday where the new proposal was tabled.

Talks between unions and Eskom collapsed last week after the power utility offered workers 5.3%.

While Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan jumped the gun by stating that an agreement had been reached in the wage talks, this is far from the truth as unions only started canvassing members on the 7% on Tuesday night.

Although the statement enraged unions, who felt undermined after the sensitive talks, Eyewitness News understands that union leaders are not wholly opposed to the new offer, with consultation meetings with workers likely going to see them explain why it is not a bad idea.

Last year, Eskom unilaterally implemented 1.5% salary adjustments for workers, leading to a standoff with unions.

Before that, it signed a deal with employees covering the period 1 July to 30 June 2021 after opening talks with a zero percent offer.

It secured staffers between 7% and 7.5% wage hikes, a once-off cash payment of R10,000 and other benefits.

At the beginning of this year’s round of talks, Numsa and the NUM demanded 15% salary increases while Solidarity wanted 8.4%.

If accepted by workers, the 7% offer would cushion wages against the effects of inflation which stood at 6.5% in May.

In the short-term though, all parties hope the return to the negotiations table will encourage workers to return to power stations as the country grapples with stage six power cuts.