Eskom, union negotiators set to continue talks in bid to end crippling strike

After Eskom increased its wage increase offer to 7%, the company and unions were hopeful that it would be enough motivation for the workers but not everyone appears convinced as the utility records high levels of absenteeism.

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

JOHANNESBURG - Eskom and union negotiators are expected to return to the central bargaining forum on Friday morning to continue talks.

However, both sides go into the fifth round of talks burdened by defiant workers who still refuse to get back to their posts.

After Eskom increased its wage increase offer to 7%, the company and unions were hopeful that it would be enough motivation for the workers but not everyone appears convinced as the utility records high levels of absenteeism.

Defiance. While it can be a useful tool for unions during sanctioned strikes, it is now also working against them.

Union negotiators return to the talks with their position blemished by the outright rejection of the 7% offer by its members at the Matimba power station in Lephalale Limpopo.

While branches will be represented in the meeting where they can voice their discontent with the deal, the workers at Matimba couldn’t wait that long, writing a letter to union leaders demanding among others an end to what they say is an apartheid wage gap at Eskom.

"We are a democratic union. I can’t confirm and say indeed, yes, the majority of our branches accept the offer or majority of our branches do not accept the offer. That will be done formally in a meeting where everyone has the right to air their views," said National Union of Mineworkers general secretary, William Mabapa.

If workers reject the offer, this would set unions and the company back after government leaders intervened to make way for the 7% offer.

This could also see the wildcat strike that died down this week flare up again, adding more strain on the national grid.