Eskom is maintaining its position of a zero percent wage offer, despite the threat of a national electricity shutdown by unions. Last week, unions walked out of negotiations saying they refuse to be disrespected and intimidated.

Eskom has stuck to its guns by insisting on a zero per cent wage offer. This is despite a meeting between unions to discuss details of a planned national shutdown.

Last week, unions walked out of negotiations saying Eskom brought heavily-armed security to the negotiation venue in an effort to intimidate workers.

Sighting cash flow problems, Eskom Spokesperson, Khulu Phasiwe, says the utility maintains the zero percent wage offer.

“At this stage we still say that our offer remains unchanged.  The reason for this is that Eskom is not trying to be unreasonable or anything of that sort.  The problem is that our coffers are currently very low and as a result, if we were to make any promises now, it will be very difficult for Eskom to remain sustainable and it will be very difficult for Eskom to make promises it cannot keep.”

A meeting between the National Union of Mine Workers (Num) and the National Union of Metal Workers (Numsa) is confirmed to have taken place to discuss the shutdown.

It was reported that Public Enterprise Minister Pravin Gordhan would also hold a meeting with unions to discuss a way forward. “We are aware of reports saying the minister will be meeting with the unions. At the moment as far as I know he is not invited but if we are going to be invited I’m sure our executives are going to go there. But maybe the unions want to have a private meeting with the minister to explain what the issues are, and we from our side have already informed the minister about the issues we are dealing with and our position,” says Phasiwe.

Numsa spokesperson, Phakamile Hlubi, says Eskom is making workers suffer for bad decisions and mismanagement by executives.  She says a national shutdown is on the cards. “We are officially headed for a strike.  Trade unions are united in their fight for an increase and refused to be blamed for the financial losses caused by corrupt managers at the state owned entity.  We’ll be mobilising all our members and all workers to embark on a complete shutdown of Eskom if they refuse to engage meaningfully with our members.”

Meanwhile, Eskom has reportedly approached the courts to request a review of the 5 percent tariff increase granted by the National Energy Regulator of South Africa earlier this year. Eskom had initially asked the regulator to grant an increase of almost 20 percent. Click below for more on the story: