Eskom wage talks continue amid tension over bonuses
Eskom and worker unions remain locked in wage negotiations, as general secretary of the National Union of Metalworkers of SA Irvin Jim warned further action was on the cards if negotiations failed.
Speaking to 24-hour news television network eNCA on Friday, Jim said if negotiations did not succeed, the union was seriously considering approaching the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration for a strike certificate.
At present, however, he described the situation as "still under control".
The first alternative in Eskom's latest offer is a choice between a basic salary increase of 7% each year until 2020, with a housing allowance adjusted annually by CPI over the period July 2018 to June 2021.
Alternatively, Eskom is offering a basic salary increase of 7.5% in 2018, then 7% in 2019 and 2020, with no adjustments in terms of the housing allowance between 2018 and 2021.
Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe told Fin24 the wage negotiations with unions were ongoing, which in itself was a good thing, as it showed all parties were committed to resolving this matter.
"There is no provision for bonus payment. A bonus is a function of a company's profitability.
"Eskom posted a net loss of R2.3bn in the 2017/18 financial year, and therefore the company simply does not have any money to offer as a bonus payment," said Phasiwe.
Phasiwe said Eskom remained optimistic that the matter would be resolved for as long as all parties continued to show willingness to negotiate.
"Referring the matter to the CCMA for conciliation is part of the normal processes of negotiations. Eskom is an essential service provider and therefore its employees are not allowed to embark on strike actions," Phasiwe said.
Jim told eNCA that the three unions talking to Eskom on wages were of one accord as far as their demands went.
"We are wrestling to try and get to one another to clinch the deal. As for [the] unions, we are coming from different angles but we are together. We caucus among ourselves and we are still in the middle of negotiations," Jim told eNCA.
Jim said management had made a series of bad decisions, including committing to IPP deals in the midst of declining sales. He said the unions were not sabotaging the electricity supply and were being patient and responsible during the talks.
"Workers have received the report on the offer last week. There is a big issue on percentages and bonuses.
"From where we are sitting, there is no strike.
"Workers would have picketed during lunchtime and in the morning. So things are still under control," said Jim.