Johannesburg - Eskom has referred a wage dispute for arbitration after negotiations with trade unions reached a deadlock.
"The issuing of the certificate of non-resolution [by
the CCMA] does not give any Eskom employee the right to embark on
industrial action," Eskom spokeswoman Hilary Joffe said in a statement
"Any strike by Eskom employees would be unprotected because of Eskom's designation as an essential service."
The National Union of Mineworkers (Num) said over
16 000 Eskom workers were preparing to strike when negotiations
deadlocked during the first dispute meeting at the Commission for
Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) on Wednesday afternoon.
Num wage negotiator Job Matsebe said unions were
readying themselves for a "serious confrontation" on the matter and
would not accept any additional offers.
"Our marches and pickets remain on track as a build-up for a more serious battle."
Num said it had rejected Eskom's offer of a two-year, 7% wage agreement. The National Union of Metalworkers of SA
(Numsa) and Solidarity also rejected Eskom's offer. The unions have been
in negotiations with Eskom since April. They wanted a 13% wage
Eskom human resource executive Bhabhalazi Bulunga said
the parastatal was implementing its final offer of a seven increase for
the September payroll. The increase would be backdated to July 1.
"Our concern is that our employees have not received an
increase at all this year. If we do not implement the increase in
September, we will have to wait until at least November, because of a
system upgrade in October. We are keen to see this dispute resolved as
soon as possible."
NUM chief negotiator Paris Mashego said the union would not give up on its demands.
"We hope to win and put brakes on Eskom's watering down of benefits and wages," he said.