Unions knew if they followed proper legal process they'd never get 7% from Eskom

Bruce Whitfield talks to employment practice specialist Hugo Pienaar about the strike at Eskom and subsequent wage increase.

FILE: Eskom employees affiliated with the NUM on strike. Picture: Eyewitness News.

How accountable are trade unions in light of Eskom attributing Stage 6 load shedding partly to an unprotected strike over wages?

"It is important to understand at the outset that Eskom is a designated essential service and certain of its sites
are considered national key points."

Law firm Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr (CDH) gives this clarification in an employment law alert on its website.

Eskom's status means that it is offered protection from strike action, says CDH.

RELATED: 'After years denying it can afford increase, so much drama then Eskom gives 7%!'

"In addition, persons tampering with or damaging essential infrastructure can be criminally prosecuted and held accountable for damages suffered."

Bruce Whitfield interviews Hugo Pienaar, Director for Employment Practice at Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr.

The unions' dispute ought to be referred to arbitration in terms of proper legal process, and of course the unions knew if they followed proper legal process they would never get the 7%.

Hugo Pienaar, Director: Employment Practice - Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr

Would Eskom have settled [with 7%] if it wasn't for the unprotected strike and the violence that accompanied that? Of course there must be consequences... but it's highly unlikely.

Hugo Pienaar, Director: Employment Practice - Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr

Pienaar asks who will be subsidising this wage increase and what effect it will have on business confidence.

Will there be more unemployment and more people suffering as a result?

They could institute an action for damages against the trade union, against the members and... lay criminal charges because it's an offense to disrupt a business which is not only an essential service but also a national keypoint... not like an Nkandla keypoint, but a serious one...

Hugo Pienaar, Director: Employment Practice - Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr

People could be sent to jail for up to 30 years! They know who started the violence, they know who the perpetrators are and these people should be held accountable.

Hugo Pienaar, Director: Employment Practice - Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr

However it is unlikely we will see consequences as a result of steps taken by Eskom, Pienaar says.

"I think it will be other parties that will take action to ensure there will be some kind of accountability."

Listen to Pienaar's analysis in the audio clip below:

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