Numsa: Eskom workers are growing 'restless'

Numsa: Eskom workers are growing 'restless'

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) has warned that workers are growing "restless" as wage talks drag on. 

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Eskom met with Numsa, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and Solidarity for another round of wage talks on Friday.

During the previous round of negotiations, the embattled parastatal presented unions with two options. Sign a three-year agreement of a 7% increase for each year and an increase in housing allowance according to the CPI. The alternative is a 7.5% increment for the first year and 7% for the next two years with no housing allowance.

The issue of bonuses has also been a bone of contention. Eskom insists that its precarious financial position means it won't be able to pay bonuses this year, while Numsa and NUM insist that it needs to be part of the deal as the power utility's financial woes are not the fault of workers. 

Numsa general-secretary Irvin Jim says the unions made another wage proposal in an attempt to resolve the two-month long impasse. 

"It is not our intention to give you (the media) the details of the negotiations because we think we are in a very sensitive stage. We have given Eskom a permutation when it comes to wages of what we think we can be able to go and persuade our members and recommend a settlement. 

"The second issue, which is a big issue for us, is the question of bonus. We made things very clear to them that its high-time that both the board of Eskom and management of Eskom must basically come to the party in terms of resolving this issue." 

Unions have given Eskom until August 3 to consider the new wage proposal. 

Jim warned that workers are growing increasingly frustrated at the slow pace of negotiations and a settlement needs to be reached as soon as possible. 

"Our members are very restless on the ground. We have warned Eskom that if they are not going to act very swiftly, very quick, this can get out of hand because all our members at power stations, at Eskom Megawatt Park, they are frustrated and angry. They want this to be wrapped up.  Beyond the 3rd (of August) we will not be able to take responsibility for anything that will go wrong."

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