Cash-strapped power utility, Eskom, tabled a 4.7% salary increase offer to its employees during negotiations in Woodmead yesterday.
Eskom seemingly has no other option but to borrow more money to fund this increase, which would raise its annual wage bill by around R1.5-billion.
Sowetan has established that the company has tabled the offer as part of a four-year deal, which will see salaries rise at the rate of inflation over the last three years.
Energy expert Ted Blom said Eskom still had opportunities to raise money from financial institutions.
“Eskom has to go borrow more money [for these increases], if it comes clean with a proper business plan, it’ll get money from funders,” Blom said. “They have to be more transparent, and they haven’t been up until now.”
The offer was made late in the afternoon after the negotiations had a rough start with a dispute on the Eskom delegation which threatened to collapse the meeting before the power utility had even presented its much-awaited offer.
However, spokesman Khulu Phasiwe declined to confirm or deny the offer or explain where the money to fund increases for Eskom’s 48000 employees will come from.
“We’ve scheduled a three-day meeting with the unions and we would like to afford that process the respect it deserves. We will not be making any further comment and we cannot confirm or deny anything at the moment,” he said.
The meeting was attended by Eskom officials, three labour unions and a senior official from Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan’s office.
Union representatives were unhappy that Eskom had seemingly reneged on an agreement reached at last Friday meeting with Gordhan, where they agreed that two board members would be part of the new round of salary increase negotiations.
National Union of Mineworkers’ chief negotiator Helen Diatile said: “We’re not satisfied that Eskom didn’t bring a powered delegation, and we’re surprised by the four years they’re proposing.”
National Union of Metalworkers of SA’s Irvin Jim said they wanted to meet Eskom’s leadership, including board members, so that decisions could be taken.
However, Solidarity’s Deon Reyneke said the 4.7% offer was a step in the right direction.
Initial negotiations collapsed when Eskom couldn’t move from its initial 0% stance, forcing unions to embark on protests for two days last week.
Yesterday’s meeting was adjourned on several occasions after the Eskom delegation requested breaks to caucus.