Organised labour at Eskom upset over wage offer rejection reports

Fin24 reported that NUM and NUMSA members were against the proposal, based on a mass distributed letter from one branch.

Picture:  @NUM_Media /Twitter

JOHANNESBURG - Organised labour at Eskom is seething following reports that its members have rejected the 7 percent wage offer which they are yet to present.

Fin24 reported that the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (NUMSA) members were against the proposal based on a mass distributed letter from one branch.

However, Eskom will only table the formal proposal at the central bargaining forum on Friday following which unions will begin to hold mass meetings to discuss the merits of the offer with members.

After Eyewitness News revealed that the new wage offer that broke the unprotected strike at Eskom was 7 percent, Numsa and Num members at Matimba power station in Lephalale, Limpopo met Wednesday night to deliberate on the issue. Thereafter they drafted a letter addressed to their national leaders declaring their rejection of the 7 percent, accusing their representative of appearing biased between their interests and the Eskom management.

While they are entitled to hold such a position, the move is premature.

"Let me categorically state that as the general secretary of the NUM, seated where I am seated, I did not get any mandate from any branch that the offer is rejected," said the union's General Secretary, William Mabapa.

Mabapa explained the process that unions will follow after the central bargaining forum meets on Friday for the tabling of the new offer.

"In that bargaining forum our branches will then be represented, Eskom will officially table the offer and we will then find a reaction in that wage negotiation".

The 7 percent wage increase offer was secured through intervention by Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan after talks between unions and Eskom deadlocked last week.

The power utility had been offering 5.3 percent while unions had different demands varying from 8,4 percent to 12 percent.

While the letter from Lephalale does not represent the position of the two unions as a single branch cannot speak for the majority – the defiance could be indicative of workers’ intentions to challenge the new offer.