Numsa threatens another strike as wage negotiations with Eskom drag on

09 August 2018 - 18:37 By Nico Gous
Demonstrators protest outside Megawatt Park, Sunninghill, in June.
Demonstrators protest outside Megawatt Park, Sunninghill, in June.
Image: Greg Roxburgh

Trade union the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) is threatening to strike as the deadlock in wage negotiations with Eskom continues.

This after Numsa general-secretary Irvin Jim accused the power utility of “negotiating in bad faith”. He claimed Eskom wanted Numsa to accept that it would take disciplinary action and fire members for protesting during the negotiations.

“We are warning Eskom management‚ the board and government‚ as the shareholder‚ that if they do not withdraw this threat‚ they leave us with no choice but to exercise our Constitutional right to engage in protected strike action in defence of jobs as a last resort.”

Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe​ said disciplinary action would mean dismissal.

“All that the Eskom management wants to do is for the workers who did not report [to work] during the industrial action to explain the reasons for their absence without leave. Each case will be dealt with on its own merits.”

Numsa said it is open to “corrective disciplinary measures (less than dismissal) if there is real evidence of misconduct”.

Numsa and the National Union of Mineworkers (Num) called for a meeting with public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan and the Eskom board on Monday.

Phasiwe​ said that‚ in the meantime‚ Eskom was waiting for feedback from the CCMA on when the next sitting of the wage negotiations would be.

Eskom said late on Wednesday that it reached an “in principle” wage deal with trade unions.

Eskom last week offered the three main unions a salary increase of 7.5% this year and 7% next year and in 2020‚ plus an inflation-linked increase in housing allowances and a one-off cash payment of R5‚000.

Solidarity accepted the offer last week‚ but Numsa and Num said they would consider it.