BUSINESS MAVERICK EXCLUSIVE

NUM demands 15% pay hike from Eskom and a doubling of housing allowance

By Ed Stoddard 15 April 2021

National Union of Mineworkers and National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa members protest on 14 June 2018 in Sandton, Johannesburg. (Photo: Gallo Images / Netwerk24 / Deaan Vivier)

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has drawn up its wage demands for Eskom, according to a presentation and a list of demands obtained by Business Maverick. They include a 15% wage hike across the board and a doubling of the housing allowance. Automatic transmissions are also in the mix as the wage negotiation season kicks into gear.

Ed Stoddard

The NUM recently held a media briefing to outline its broad goals this year in wage talks with Eskom, the gold sector and others. But a presentation obtained by Business Maverick outlines its full submission for cash-strapped power utility Eskom, with some changes from its previous stance. The negotiations will take place against the backdrop of extremely strained relations between the union and the SOE’s top brass. 

So, to wit, as Eskom’s tariffs for consumers climb just over 15%, the NUM is demanding “that the apartheid wage gap must be closed before the conclusion of these wage negotiations. We demand a salary increase of 15% across the board.” 

The union also just wants a one-year agreement. Just recently it had signalled it would settle for less than 15% if agreements were just for one year. 

The documents also demand a doubling of the housing allowance to R7,000 a month from R3,500. One of the documents states that two mining companies have housing allowances of R7,200 and R6,200. 

Some Eskom employees, including NUM members, also have a car allowance, according to the documents. The “current C-Scheme car allowance is R6,086”, and the NUM wants it raised to R10,000. The documents also note that automatic cars are excluded from the scheme and it would like them to be included. Rather like North Americans and old people. 

Other demands include an increase in contingency leave — typically taken for dealing with family emergencies — and a widening of the family members in distress who would qualify an employee to take such leave to nephews, nieces, uncles, aunts and others. The NUM says the current definition is “Eurocentric” and needs to become “Afrocentric”. This probably has resonance with many of its members and the wide kinship network of dependants they typically support. 

“The NUM believes that the … demands are reasonable and achievable. The company is doing well, in recovering all the monies that were stolen. That money is the labour of our members. Our members deserve a share from that money,” one of the documents says. 

Other commentators would disagree with the assertion that Eskom, with a debt burden of close to half a trillion rand, “is doing well”. Cost containment in the view of many analysts and economists is seen as crucial for South Africa’s flailing and failing SOEs at the moment. 

So the gloves are coming off. The NUM claims about 14,000 members at Eskom and is the SOE’s largest union. Its relations with Eskom management are rocky at the moment, to say the least, amid allegations of racism it has levelled against Eskom Group Chief Executive André de Ruyter. That will make for a tough negotiating environment. DM/BM

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All Comments 16

  • The union movement as the foot soldiers of Communism, have been directly instrumental in the destruction of the country’s infrastructure. These are outrageous demands in the face of dire economic hardship for millions of citizens who are unprotected by the tenets of the absurd Labour Relations Act

  • No ambition!

    Why stop at 15% and double housing?

    Any decent comrade should demand 25% salary increase and entirely free housing, internet, schooling, health care, clothing, food, transport and satellite TV.

  • So NUM moves further and further out of touch with reality. We want to live like ex-presidents. Who cares about the economy and the country? Productivity drops disastrously, salaries rise at 4 times inflation, and NUM arithmetic says that is affordable???

  • If NUM will guarantee continuous power supply and appropriate preventive maintenance then 15% would be reasonable. However it is also a pipe dream and for this situation they are certainly co-responsible

    • That is definitely and counter argument to offer these trade unions for them to attempt to process with their limited brain cells.

  • I find it amazing that after 26 years, with unemployment now well above 30%, the ANC and their alliance partners have not yet figured out that they have no control over the relationship between wages and unemployment. The law of demand and supply is in full control. A lovely simplification is that it is like a seesaw. You cannot push up both sides of the seesaw at the same time. The equilibrium point is in the middle at the fulcrum. Global competition exacerbates this, causing their actions to result in reduced investment, fewer mostly unproductive employees earning more income, but simultaneously destroying the livelihoods of others. Every time this happens unemployment, poverty and inequality rise. They will blame the employers, causing the number of employers to decline. However, the unions will deny contributing to this downward spiral, so it will continue until the level of poverty is so dire that unions become irrelevant, or the economy collapses completely. Hopefully, someone will realize that a flexible labour market is essential for our survival.

    • 100 % Peter. They blame “apartheid” and forget about the trillions looted by cANCer and their connected Cadres. With rating going down and labor prices moving up disinvestment is coming in hot.

  • “the apartheid wage gap”- I have news for this nincompoops, their salaries are market related and in most cases MUCH higher than the private sector. They are determined to cripple the economy. And WHY always blame apartheid. What has their ANC been doing for 27 year? Decimating our country

  • The depth of the union bosses’ ignorance is astounding. This is like holding a gun to the captain of the Titanic’s head and demanding: “Faster!”

  • Nice. This while the private sector offers no increases because of the costs resulting from Covid. We are either very stupid or there is a disconnect somewhere.

  • Cretins of the first order! Clearly any form of understanding of about ESKOM R500 billion debt and how their “demands” will affect this are beyond their comprehension. They are so used to hearing of the billions stolen by the Guptas, Zuma et al, that they think their demands are “small change”.

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