21/06/2018 05:31 BST | Updated 21/06/2018 05:32 BST

Eskom Will Have To Trim Operational Costs To Meet Wage Increase Demands

Eskom says there is money for wage increases, but it will come from its operational costs.

Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters
Cows graze as steam rises from the cooling towers of Matla Power Station, a coal-fired power plant operated by Eskom in Mpumalanga province, South Africa, May 20,2018. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

Eskom will have to trim operation costs to make money available for wage increases, its spokesperson says. Eskom's wage offer of 4.7% has been rejected by unions, who countered that offer on Wednesday with 9%, Business Day reported. Trade unions the National Union of Metalworkers SA (Numsa), the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and Solidarity have been locked in negotiations since Tuesday.

Last week, unions embarked on protests over Eskom's 0 percent wage increase offer. The power utility said there had been sabotage at some of its units and load shedding was implemented. The deadlock was broken by public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan who intervened to prevent more load shedding, and told Eskom it had to go back to the table with more than 0 percent.

The power utility tabled a 4.7 percent offer on Tuesday, with a CPI-based increase for the three years after that.

According to Business Day, the unions' counter-offer includes a long list of demands including a R1,000 housing allowance for 2018, as well as for Eskom to end the use of labour brokers and to end outsourcing.

Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe reportedly said the money for wage increases is available, but it is "scheduled for other things that we need for our daily operations; we are going to have to trim some of the operational expenses."

The unions' counter-offer proposals were not made public, officially, by the three unions. According to TimesLive, the unions said in a joint statement that they did not want to make their counter-offer public.

"We want to avoid a situation where we bargain through the media," they said.

Meanwhile, Eskom said it did not have to implement load shedding on Wednesday, despite earlier warnings that this might be necessary.

According to Fin24, Eskom said earlier in the day that there was a high risk of load shedding between 5pm and 9pm but that this would only be done as a "last resort".

But by just after 9pm, the power utility said this had not been necessary.