Eskom is sticking to its guns in attempting to keep Eskom’s salary bill in check. On Thursday, the debt-laden, state-owned electricity utility said it will implement a conditional 1.5% wage increase, potentially setting the stage for a showdown with unions, which had been demanding far more.
“After extensive engagements at the central bargaining forum since the start of the wage talks during May 2021, Eskom has exercised its right and made a decision to implement its final 1.5% basic wage increase and changes to the conditions of service offer with effect from 1 July,” the company said in a statement.
“This decision has been formally communicated to the three recognised trade unions, the National Union of Mineworkers, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa and Solidarity.”
Even then, Eskom employees are not guaranteed the 1.5% increase. The offer, the utility said, is “dependent on the efficiencies and savings realised from reviewing certain elements of employee benefits where there are excesses”.
“Eskom has identified possible adjustments in the overtime, travel and transfer benefits, among others. These adjustments will also be implemented with effect from 1 July.”
The company said the 1.5% adjustment, which is well below consumer price inflation, will allow it to protect jobs and manage the risk to its sustainability.
“Colleagues, as proud, caring and committed South Africans, we cannot allow a dispute over wages to compromise our national interest and hold hard-working South Africans and their families hostage as a result,” said Eskom CEO André de Ruyter in a statement to employees.
“Eskom urges all its employees and labour unions to put the national interest and respect for the rule of law first,” De Ruyter added.
The wage talks ended in dispute on 2 June. No resolution could be reached at the conciliation and mediation process held on 10 June. The following day, Eskom received a notification that organised labour had referred the dispute for arbitration. The arbitration process hasn’t yet commenced.
“Eskom would like to remind all stakeholders that the generation, distribution and transmission of electricity are classified as essential services. Eskom employees are therefore legally prohibited from participation in unlawful industrial action,” the utility said. — © 2021 NewsCentral Media