Eskom will be implementing a 1.5% salary increase from the first of next month and adjust some employee benefits. This is in defiance of unions’ demands of increases of between 9.5% and 15%.

Wage talks between the cash-strapped power utility ended earlier this month without agreement and arbitration is yet to start.

The video below reports on wage talks collapsing and Eskom declaring a dispute three weeks ago:

Eskom spokesperson Sikonathi Mantshantsha has urged employees to act in the public interest and respect the rule of law.

“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 01 July 2021.  This decision has been formally communicated to the three recognized trade unions at Eskom.”

A previous pay dispute in 2018 led to electricity supply interruptions, and Eskom has warned the same could happen again.

Eskom said in Friday’s statement that its salary offer would allow it to protect jobs and manage risks to its sustainability.

“The generation, distribution and transmission of electricity are classified as essential services. Eskom employees are therefore legally prohibited from participation in unlawful industrial action,” it added.

Eskom’s three main unions, the National Union of Mineworkers, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa and Solidarity, are yet to respond to the latest development

Additional reporting by Reuters