Unions have planned a big demonstration at Eskom’s Megawatt Park on Thursday to picket against Eskom’s zero percent wage offer.

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) and the National Union of Mineworkers (Num) held a joint press briefing in Kempton Park to discuss details of their planned pickets.

While unions have set aside plans for a national shutdown, they say they will not take their punishment lying down.

Num and Numsa showed a united front when briefing media in Johannesburg about their joint plans to challenge Eskom’s zero percent wage increase. Unions have scheduled lunch-time pickets where workers will demonstrate.

“We will exhaust all options available to us legally before we go on strike.  We scheduled pickets during lunch time in different parts of the country where workers will express their disgust with Eskom for their provocative stance.  On Thursday there will be a big demonstration at Megawatt Park during lunch.  As workers we are resolute in our demands,” says General Secretary of Numsa, Irvin Jim.

The unions’ list of demands includes a meeting with the President and Energy Minister.  “Furthermore we demand an urgent meeting with Eskom board, the President of the country Cyril Ramaphosa, and the Minister of Energy, Jeff Radebe. We demand that they meet with all three unions with speed to resolve the current impasse between Eskom and unions and give workers their deserved wage increase.”

Jim says Eskom’s cashflow problems are perpetuated by a bloated management structure. He says Eskom roughly has 500 top executives who earn an average income of up to R800 000. Jim says Eskom’s austerity measures an attack on workers.

“Both Numsa and Num are very clear that we’re not part of supporting the austerity measures that are couched within the context of the new dawn. I mean we were never consulted that the National Treasury will not budget to ensure that Eskom, as a critical institution, in the centre of energy, minerals and finance complex, which make up the South African economy, that it cannot be resourced.”

The unions also plan to challenge the government’s decision to sign the Independent Power Producer (IPP) contracts.  Jim says IPPs will cost more than the power already provided by power stations, he says the decision was reckless.

“So we flagging that yes the issue of the IPPs, its connection basically destroys market sales for Eskom. And immediately while Eskom management is doing that, the board supports the minister to sign.  They are quick to say that workers will not get an increase when in fact their decision to sign IPPs is basically reckless.”

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