Lamu coal power plant
Bucket of coal and helmet coal miner. Credit: 123rf

On Tuesday, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) rejected South African parastatal, Eskom’s improved salary increase of 5.75% up from 5%, stating that this offer is “pathetic and insulting”.

Arguing that the power utility has secure finances to boost the wages, the Union stated that: “the pre-paid payment to the Tegeta Resources of ZAR568 million [$39 million] for the coal supply confirms that Eskom is financially stable.”

However, Reuters Africa reported that the utility said it is willing to increase wages, but cannot afford what the union was demanding.

NUM demands higher pay

In a statement, NUM has stated that they are fighting for a 15% salary increase for its members.

[quote]Helen Diatile, the union’s chief negotiator told Reuters: “We have rejected the offer and we will now get a new mandate from the workers so that we can continue to engage.”

Other requests include:

  1. Maternity leave: No concessions on maternity leave have been made. The union is still demanding six months paid maternity leave.
  2. Housing allowance: The NUM has made a huge concession on its initial housing allowance of ZAR7, 500 to ZAR5, 500.
  3. Duration of the agreement: The NUM maintain a 1-year wage agreement.
  4. Leave encashment: The NUM is demanding that when employees sell a minimum of 5 days they must be paid for 5 days not be penalised for 2 days as it is currently happening. This practice constitutes a daylight robbery in terms of the conditions of service.

According to Eskom’s spokesman Khulu Phasiwe, the parastatal’s financial situation is in an uncertain space at the moment, with loans having to be paid to keep the system running, Reuters reported.