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'Watt an insult' is union response to Eskom's 5% offer


'Watt an insult' is union response to Eskom's 5% offer

As an irritated nation looks on, salary negotiations surge on with no light at the end of the tunnel yet

Isaac Mahlangu

Cash-strapped Eskom is expected to table its final salary increase offer on Thursday after unions unanimously rejected its revised proposal of 5% on Wednesday.
Unions dismissed the latest offer as “not even worth” taking back to their members, and asked Eskom to take the ongoing negotiations more seriously.
Eskom topped its initial offer of 4.7% by an additional 0.3% – linked to the inflation rate – in Johannesburg on Wednesday. The embattled power utility, which seeks a longer three-year deal,  proposed an additional 0.6% and 0.7% on top of any future inflation rate in the last two years.
This comes after the utility’s board met on Monday to discuss the unions’ latest salary increase demand.Deputy general secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM)  William Mabapa said they were rejecting the Eskom's revised offer which he described as disappointing.
“If you want to sign a long-term deal, that has to have guaranteed figures ...  it’s a different ball game because inflation can go down to 4%. That’s something we don’t accept.”
The new round of negotiations came after the power utility’s initial 4.7% salary increase offer was also rejected as unions revised their demand to a 9% counter offer.
Unions had also presented several suggestions on how Eskom could improve its balance sheet, among them by cutting the size of the executive and senior managers from more than 500 to 200.
The three unions also proposed that Eskom should do away with the sourcing of energy from independent power producers at a higher cost.National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa’s Irvin Jim said if Eskom addressed its cost drivers immediately, it would be able to offer workers a better deal.
The  three unions, including Solidarity, presented their joint response to the 5%  revised offer late in the afternoon on Wednesday.
Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe said: “The wage negotiations between Eskom and the three recognised unions are scheduled to take place over a three-day period ending this Friday, and therefore Eskom would like to give [the negotiations] process a chance to be completed before making any public pronouncements on this matter.”

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