The largest trade union at Eskom wants a 15% wage increase even as the utility fails to generate adequate electricity to meet South Africa’s needs, resulting in nationwide power cuts.
The National Union of Mineworkers wants the same raise for all workers along with other increases in allowances for housing and other benefits, it said in a letter to Eskom.
Wage negotiations at the utility come at a contentious time for Eskom and South Africa.
Measures implemented by President Cyril Ramaphosa to end power shortages have included expanding a programme to buy renewable energy, implementing a national state of disaster that was retracted and appointing an electricity minister, but the ongoing outages have deepened in recent days.
Labour settled on a one-year contract with Eskom in 2022 following violent protests that intimidated some workers from reporting for duty and increased power shortages that contributed to an all-time record.
Eskom employees aren’t allowed to strike legally, because the provision of electricity is considered an essential service.
Solidarity, another labour union at the utility, has also submitted its demand for a pay increase of three percentage points above inflation. South Africa’s average inflation rate was 6.9% last year and the Reserve Bank projects that will slow to 6% for 2023. — (c) 2023 Bloomberg LP