JOHANNESBURG – South African power utility Eskom and trade unions reached an “in principle” wage deal, the company said late on Wednesday, potentially ending weeks of tense negotiations that have lead to power outages in Africa’s most industrialised economy.
Last week Eskom offered the three main unions a salary increase of 7.5 percent this year and 7 percent next year and in 2020, plus an inflation-linked increase in housing allowances and a one-off cash payment of 5,000 rands ($370).
The offer was accepted by the Solidarity union last week while the two larger unions, National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) said they would consider it.
“Wage talks between Eskom and trade unions, primarily NUM and Numsa, ended without a signed agreement although the unions have in principle accepted Eskom’s offer,” said Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe.
In a statement released late on Wednesday, the power firm said the two unions wanted members who participated in an illegal strike to not face disciplinary action, a condition Eskom rejected.
Eskom did, however, agree to a request by the unions for a meeting with the minister of state firms Pravin Gordhan and the firm’s board.
The cash-strapped power utility, which generates more than 90 percent of the country’s power, is desperate to end the work stoppages and push ahead with a turnaround plan that is a centrepiece of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s pledge to reform the economy.