In what was intended as a final offer, power utility Eskom has been faced with firm rejection of their latest salary proposal by three major trade unions. This deadlock prompts a fourth round of negotiations set for June, veering away from the traditional three-round negotiation model.
Negotiations: A Timeline
Eskom’s dialogue with its recognized trade unions, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA), and Solidarity, saw the third round of negotiations conclude on May 25th. Eskom initially responded to NUM and NUMSA’s 15% wage hike demand and Solidarity’s 10.1% with a proposed 3.75%, which was later boosted to 4.5%. However, the unions remained steadfast, revising their demands to 11%, 12%, and 9.5%, respectively. In response, Eskom advanced its offer to a final 5.25%, a proposition that all three unions unanimously refused.
Apart from the wage hike, the unions presented a list of additional benefits they want Eskom to provide:
- An upliftment of the housing allowance to R7,000, enabling employees to purchase homes anywhere across the nation;
- A transition to an 80% contribution by Eskom to the employees’ medical aid;
- A monthly cellphone allowance of R1,000;
- An electricity allowance worth R1,500;
- A one-time essential worker or danger allowance of R1,500, besides a distinct voltage work allowance on a sliding scale;
- A performance bonus pegged at 25% of the annual salary;
- A study benefit of R20,000 per child;
- A car allowance of R10,000 via Eskom’s proposed vehicle X-scheme.
Achievements and Future Plans
Despite the tensions, the involved parties have managed to reach consensus on modifying the Grievance and Disciplinary Procedures. Moreover, a decision to conduct a fourth round of negotiations on June 13 and 14, 2023, is a testament to the parties’ optimistic outlook of reaching a settlement at the Central Bargaining Forum (CBF).
As the company navigates its current energy production challenges and braces for a demand surge in the upcoming winter months, Eskom remains hopeful of striking an agreeable accord with the labour unions for the broader good of the company and the nation.
The Grim Spectre of Stage 8 Load Shedding
Eskom’s wage negotiation saga is set against a backdrop of escalating load shedding, with the company suggesting the possibility of stage 8 in the middle of winter. The Institute of Risk Management South Africa (IRMSA) has expressed serious concerns about the grave implications of such extreme load shedding on the already fragile economy and the country’s social fabric. IRMSA urges risk managers across sectors to take immediate action in mitigating this looming threat.