Numsa condemns Eskom management for 'wasting time' during wage talks

Power utility representatives said they followed the code of good practice

20 April 2023 - 15:59
By Shonisani Tshikalange
The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa has accused Eskom of using delaying tactics to drag negotiations out unnecessarily.
Image: Freddy Mavunda The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa has accused Eskom of using delaying tactics to drag negotiations out unnecessarily.

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) says Eskom is not negotiating in good faith and accused it of using delaying tactics to drag out wage negotiations unnecessarily.

The union said it met the power utility's management in the Central Bargaining Forum (CBF) for the first day of wage talks on Wednesday.

“Eskom management behaved appallingly by failing to present written submissions to the CBF. We were supposed to start negotiations at 9am but we ended up starting at 12.45pm because Eskom needed time to write its submissions so that it could be shared with all parties. It took them nearly three hours to respond,” union spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola said.

When Eskom eventually responded, they “falsely” said most of the demands should not be raised in the CBF but in other Eskom forums.

“This is nonsense. They did not even respond to the demands, to say whether they can afford them. They simply tried to defer them to other forums for discussion,” she said.

Numsa's demands include a two-year wage agreement, a 15% increase and correction of income differentials. 

It is also demanding six months' fully paid maternity leave and 14 days' paternity leave, and 80% medical aid contribution from the employer and 20% contribution from workers.

The union also wants a housing allowance increase of R1,175, among other things. 

Eskom said it wants a one-year agreement and is offering a 3.75% increase.

“We condemn Eskom for their unprofessionalism and frequent delaying tactics. This is not how the executive management of a SOE should behave. It is unheard of [for] negotiators to arrive at a session of this nature with written notes instead of a clear presentation of their position.”

Hlubi-Majola said unions had submitted their demands last Thursday.

Eskom denied it was not prepared.

“In terms of the code of good practice on collective bargaining, parties are required to respond to offers and demands in writing. Eskom had a written response which they intended to send to the unions after it contextualised the content.”

Unions wanted the written document before contextualisation.

“Further, the written responses were a consolidation of all demands received from the three trade unions due to the similarities of most demands. The unions wanted the responses per union.

“The deconsolidation process took some time and this led to a slight delay,” Eskom said.

The code did not prescribe the format of responses other than they should be in writing.

Eskom said due to its financial and operational circumstances it rejected the demands because they were unreasonable and unsustainable.

Talks will continue until Friday.


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