Unions, Eskom to resume wage talks

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Wage talks between Eskom and unions are due to resume on Tuesday in Woodmead, north of Johannesburg.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) and Solidarity are expected to take part.

The country suffered power outages because of what Eskom said was illegal protest action by NUM and NUMSA late last week. However, no further significant outages were reported on Sunday.

The unions have been protesting against Eskom’s announcement that it would not grant any pay increase this year.

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan said late on Friday that the utility would offer an increase.

NUM said earlier that its negotiators would take part in the talks on Tuesday, but miss them on Wednesday because its congress is starting on that day.

All parties agreed to engage on key issues

Numsa says the minister arranged the meeting in an attempt to resolve the impasse between unions and Eskom management.

Numsa president, Andrew Chirwa explains, “So from tomorrow [Tuesday] the negotiations will continue. As things stand now we are doing final consultation with our members, our structures, but we are happy that the process will be back on track. We hope that this process will yield results which will ensure that the workers receive their much needed increase but also to ensure that the stability…. All of us want stability.”

Numsa says at the meeting all parties also agreed to engage on key issues that impact the utility’s future sustainability including the cost of primary coal, the bloated top management structure and the impact of Independent Power Producer’s policy.

“Part of the problem is that they say they don’t have money but at the same time they’re saying we’re going to fund IPPs, to roll out IPPs for 36 billion only in this current financial year. How is that possible when at the same time you claim you don’t have money but what you’re doing is completely opposite. There is no need now for extra, additional power in the grid.”