The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa), officially the biggest affiliate of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) representing a total membership of 320 000 workers in energy, engineering, auto, steel, components, trye and rubber and motor sectors, has reached a deadlock with the state-owned monopoly power utility Eskom in relation to the 2013 collective bargaining negotiations.
The first phase of wage negotiations began on the week of May 29-31 2013, and the second phase was held on June 12-14, 2013, and the final phase of negotiations was held last week July 10-12, 2013. It was during last week Friday’s (July 12, 2013) session that a deadlock was declared by Numsa.
“The rejection of our collective bargaining demand is an underhand tactic and punishment to the union for waging a successful campaign opposing Eskom’s ridiculous application for increased electricity tariffs increase to Nersa early this year. Now our members are being forced to agree on a meager increase. This 5.6% offer by Eskom is a spit in the face of workers by the filthy rich Eskom executives”, says Numsa National Sector Coordinator for Basic Metals and Energy comrade Stephen Nhlapo
“This is a serious provocation and a declaration of war by Eskom’s spoilt boys club. We will take the war directly to Eskom’s doorsteps, since our members are agitated and anxious to use their mobilization power to hold the utility’s ‘power’ until their demands are met”, says comrade Nhlapo
We have since deferred the matter to a mediation process with a hope and understanding that Eskom will abandon its bullying strategy, and start negotiating in good faith. This process will also inform and guide the next course of action the union should pursue in order to force Eskom to concede to workers’ demands.
“We want to caution Eskom, if he (Eskom) thinks that they will hamstring us on the Minimum Services Agreement (MSA) by using the courts to muzzle our members not to strike, Eskom will be fooling itself and behaving in a myopic manner, we will jealously defend our hard won right to strike”, concludes comrade Nhlapo
These are our legitimate and genuine demands; (1) An increase of R3000 across the board; (2) A Housing Allowance of R5000; (3) A one (1) year collective bargaining agreement, as opposed to the 5 year agreement as proposed by Eskom; (4)A total ban of labour brokers; And (5) Eskom’s contribution of 80% towards Medical Aid.