Labour unions demand 15% wage increase for Eskom workers

The two biggest unions representing workers at Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. are seeking 15% wage increases, adding to the woes confronting the loss-making South African power utility. The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa and the National Union of Mineworkers recently tabled their demands at a preparatory meeting. 

Eskom’s two biggest labour unions demand 15% wage increases

By Mike Cohen

(Bloomberg) – The two biggest unions representing workers at Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. are seeking 15% wage increases, adding to the woes confronting the loss-making South African power utility.

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa and the National Union of Mineworkers tabled their demands at a preparatory meeting on Friday and pay talks will resume on May 4, Eskom spokesman Sikonathi Mantshantsha said by phone. Solidarity, a smaller union, wants 9.5% increases for its members, it said by text message.

South Africa’s consumer inflation rate is currently 2.9%.

Eskom is struggling to meet electricity demand due to breakdowns at its old and poorly maintained plants and isn’t generating enough cash to fund its operations and service its R464bn ($33bn) of debt. The utility bowed to pressure from labor in 2018 wage negotiations after strikes that crippled the grid, agreeing to a one-time cash payment and annual increases of at least 7%.

The latest pay demands are reasonable and affordable, with many of Eskom’s problems “manufactured” by a management that is failing to do its job, William Mabapa, the NUM’s acting general secretary said by phone.

Numsa said that it wasn’t immediately able to comment.

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