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NUM workers protest over ongoing wage dispute

On Monday, 1,500 members of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), who are employed at various South African power stations, refused to commence their duties over the ongoing wage dispute.

Engineering news reported that the parastatal called the stoppage illegal as members are prohibited by law from striking, but said its operations had not been affected thus far.

It was reported that the Union said the strike would commence today, following a national public holiday on Tuesday where the country celebrated Women’s Day, commemorating the 1956 march of 20,000 women to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to petition against the pass laws under the Apartheid Regime.

NUM workers protest for raise

The union said in a statement: “It is going to be a total withdrawal of labour by our members. NUM members will be striking for the right to strike at Eskom.”

According to Engineering News, the utility said on Monday that arbitration over the wage dispute was continuing.

In June, NUM stated that they are fighting for a 15% salary increase for its members on top of:

  • Maternity leave: No concessions on maternity leave have been made. The union is still demanding six months paid maternity leave.
  • Housing allowance: The NUM has made a huge concession on its initial housing allowance of ZAR7, 500 [$596] to ZAR5, 500 [$448].
  • Duration of the agreement: The NUM maintain a 1-year wage agreement.
  • 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.

The utility offered a 5.75% wage increase adding that it’s financial situation was in an uncertain space, with loans having to be paid to keep the system running.

This offer was quickly rejected and referred to being “pathetic and insulting”.

At the time, 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.”

Ashley Theron
Ashley Theron-Ord is based in Cape Town, South Africa at Clarion Events-Africa. She is the Senior Content Producer across media brands including ESI Africa, Smart Energy International, Power Engineering International and Mining Review Africa.