ESKOM, UNIONS RE­OPEN CRU­CIAL WAGE TALKS

Na­tional power util­ity bows to worker pres­sure, re­sump­tion of ne­go­ti­a­tions puts on hold threat of a full blown strike

Afro Voice (Western Cape) - - Front Page - TIISETSO MANOKO

ESKOM has bowed to the pres­sure of work­ers by re­open­ing the wage ne­go­ti­a­tions yes­ter­day.

In a week that has seen the power util­ity tak­ing a very tough stance on its com­mit­ment to a no wage in­crease this will come as some­thing of a re­lief, not only to the work­ers but to con­sumers of elec­tric­ity across the coun­try.

Group CEO Phaka­mani Hadebe told thou­sands of work­ers be­long­ing to NUM and Numsa af­ter their mass march to the Eskom head of­fices about the new development.

Ac­cept­ing a mem­o­ran­dum of de­mands from the work­ers, Hadebe said they were com­mit­ted to re­open­ing the ne­go­ti­a­tions. “We do note the de­mands on your mem­o­ran­dum that you are giv­ing us,” he said.

The power util­ity had of­fered a 0% wage hike, say­ing they didn’t have money.

NUM gen­eral sec­re­tary David Sipunzi said the work­ers were de­mand­ing a 15% wage hike across the board.

He said they were giv­ing Eskom seven days to re­spond to their de­mands and if that failed they would be go­ing back to Me­gawatt Park.

“We de­mand a one-year wage agree­ment, we also de­mand a sys­tem de­signed to mi­grate 66% of the staff who are women and young work­ers into a bet­ter salary band as they were cur­rently trapped at the min­i­mum end of the salary scale.

“We de­mand the abo­li­tion of dis­crim­i­na­tion in the dis­tri­bu­tion of in­cen­tive bonuses.

“All work­ers are to re­ceive 25% on tar­get bonuses re­gard­less of grad­ing.

“We de­mand the ban­ning of labour bro­kers now,” he said.

Sipunzi said the cash-crip­pled in­sti­tu­tion should not tell the work­ers they did not have money but they should call those who have bankrupted Eskom to ac­count.

A worker from one power sta­tion in Mpumalanga told Afro Voice they needed the in­crease be­cause the cost of ev­ery­thing was very high.

“We are also af­fected by the VAT and petrol in­crease, a 0% wage in­crease is an in­sult to the work­ers.

“We want what be­longs to us, it is time that Eskom takes us se­ri­ously,” a pro­tester said.

Mean­while, the South African Fed­er­a­tion of Trade Unions (Saftu) gen­eral sec­re­tary, Zwelinzima Vavi, said the unity of the work­ers was para­mount.

“This CEO is shaken, he has made a 180 de­gree U­turn af­ter telling the ne­go­tia­tors to of­fer no in­crease to the work­ers. We are push­ing him into a cor­ner and we are not go­ing to stop and he (Hadebe) knows very well what that means,” he said.

Vavi called on the work­ers to close ranks and stand strong in the face of in­tim­i­da­tion from man­age­ment.

He called on all the labour unions to stand be­hind the work­ers at Eskom amid the ne­go­ti­a­tions.

Vavi said Saftu was be­hind the work­ers all the way and the gov­ern­ment needed to in­ter­vene ur­gently to avoid black­outs.

Numsa pres­i­dent An­drew Chirwa said the new dawn that was de­clared by Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa was a new dawn of job losses.

He said the power util­ity needed to with­draw the sign­ing of In­de­pen­dent Power Pro­duc­ers.

“If you have been sleep­ing it’s time to wake up. There’s no new dawn – your jobs are up for sale.

“We were happy when they changed the board, but that hap­pi­ness was short­lived be­cause in no time we re­alised that we are in much more trou­ble than ever be­fore,” he said.

Chirwa said no worker wouldbe al­lowed to work if the power util­ity was not go­ing to give them what they want.

“We are go­ing to shut­down all the power sta­tions. We mean busi­ness here,” he said.

He­len Di­atile, chief ne­go­tia­tor for NUM, said the power util­ity had not given them a date as to when the ne­go­ti­a­tions were go­ing to re­sume.

PIC­TURE : ROBERTTLAPU

Eskom em­ploy­ees pick­et­ing out­side the power un­til­ity’s head of­fice in Me­gawatt Park, Sun­ninghill yes­ter­day. Pres­sure from the unions have forced man­age­ment to re­open talks over wages, tar­get bonuses and the ban­ning of labour bro­kers.

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