13/06/2018 06:13 SAST | Updated 13/06/2018 06:13 SAST

Eskom Staff Threaten Strike Action Over Zero Percent Wage Increase

Eskom staff have declared a dispute with the power utility as they prepare to strike over Eskom's offer of a 0% wage increase.

A man walks past electricity pylons in Soweto, South Africa, March 5, 2018. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko
Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters
A man walks past electricity pylons in Soweto, South Africa, March 5, 2018. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

Eskom staff are threatening to embark on a strike over Eskom's offer of a 0 percent wage increase across the board, as the power utility tries to rein in its expenses. But employees represented by the National Union of Metalworkers SA (Numsa) and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) say they want increases of between 9 percent and 15 percent, according to TimesLive.

Numsa and NUM reportedly said on Tuesday that they will declare a dispute with the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), in an effort to exhaust all their legal options before embarking on a strike.

They said they require the intervention of President Cyril Ramaphosa and energy minister Jeff Radebe to avoid a strike.

Pickets are reportedly planned for this week.

According to Business Day, contingency plans are in place to ensure that electricity supply is not affected by the pickets. Trade union Solidarity reportedly declared a dispute with Eskom last week.

Eskom staff are reportedly considered "essential services" who are not allowed to strike.

Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim reportedly said on Tuesday that the unions had scheduled lunchtime pickets to demonstrate against Eskom's "provocative stance".

Eskom also warned that a voice note doing the rounds on social media, warning of power cuts on Thursday due to strike action, was false. According to Eyewitness News (EWN), Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe said there was no strike planned for Thursday, as rumoured, only pickets.

He reportedly said, "We'd like to put it on record that there are no plans by Eskom to implement load shedding. We've noted some of the plans by some of the workers within Eskom to go on an industrial action, but we've activated our contingency plan to keep the lights on."

Meanwhile, Eskom's battles with the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) continued on Tuesday, according to Fin24, with the announcement that the power utility will challenge Nersa's decision to grant it a 5.23 percent tariff increase in court. Eskom initially requested a tariff increase of 19.9 percent, which was rejected.