South Africa’s Eskom offers workers 1.5% wage increase

PUBLISHED: Mon, 17 May 2021 15:28:49 GMT

JOHANNESBURG, May 17 (Reuters) – South African state power utility Eskom on Monday said it was offering a wage increase of 1.5% to workers, far below the above-inflation demands made by its trade unions.

The struggling company, which produces the vast majority of the power in Africa’s most industrialised nation, has previously warned that disputes during the current round of wage negotiations could impact its ability to supply electricity.

It began wage talks with the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) and Solidarity early this month.

NUM demanded a salary increase of 15% in the 2021/22 financial year but would also consider a multi-year agreement, while NUMSA wants a one-year 15% salary increase and Solidarity is seeking a 9.5% annual increase over multiple years.

Inflation is currently around 3%.

Eskom said in a statement that its wage offer was conditional on labour representatives accepting amendments to staff conditions of employment including overtime rates and travel time. Negotiations are ongoing.

The utility, which is choking under more than 460 billion rand ($32 billion) of debt, imposes regular power cuts as it grapples with repeated faults at its ailing coal-fired power stations. (Reporting by Tanisha Heiberg; Editing by Alexander Winning and Jan Harvey)

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