Eskom refers dispute to CCMA

2011-09-08 16:20

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 on Thursday.

"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 increase.

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.