Eskom has declared a dispute following a demand by trade unions to drop disciplinary hearing against their members who took part in industrial action.
In a statement on Wednesday night Eskom Group Executive for Human Resources Elsie Pule announced that in terms of the Labour Relation Act, the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation, and Arbitration (CCMA) had closed section 150 negotiations process as both Eskom and trade unions deadlocked during talks.
Power Utility announced it has declared a dispute with NUM, NUMSA, and Solidarity.
This follows the precondition that NUM and NUMSA introduced as part of the wage negotiations.
The trade unions demanded that irrespective of the outcome of the disciplinary process, Eskom should not dismiss their members.
“Eskom reserves its right to follow the disciplinary process in line with the company’s Disciplinary Code and Procedure,” said Pule.
“To bring the process to a conclusion, Eskom has referred a mutual interest dispute to the CCMA. We remain positive we will resolve the process,” she said.
The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) had earlier said it is disappointing that parties are not making any progress at the CCMA.
“Since we started with wage negotiations, Eskom has been insisting on disciplining workers who took part in the industrial action.
Eskom wants NUM to sign the agreement and thereafter dismiss our members. The NUM will only sign the wage agreement if Eskom agrees to drop disciplinary action,” the union said.
At a meeting convened Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) (Section 150) last week, the three recognised trade unions all in principle agreed to Eskom’s three-year wage proposal and conditions of employment where bargaining unit employees would see a salary adjustment of 7.5% in 2018/19 and 7% in 2019/20 and 7% in 2020/21.
The agreement also includes an annual cost of living (CPI) adjustment to their housing allowance and a once-off cash payment of R10 000.
However, said Eskom at the time NUM and NUMSA introduced a precondition that Eskom should not discipline employees who took part in the July/August unprotected strike.
“Eskom could not agree to this precondition,” said Eskom.
In June 2018, NUM and NUMSA defied the Labour Relations Act (LRA) and its essential service provisions and embarked on unprocedural, and therefore unlawful and unprotected, strike action.
“This strike action included various acts of criminality, including alleged acts of sabotage and destruction of property.
The industrial action led to the power system being constrained and rotational load shedding for three days, impacting the economy.”
“The Minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin Gordhan, intervened and convened a meeting where all parties understood that the unions would end all unlawful industrial action and the company would not discipline employees who engaged in the June 2018 unlawful industrial action,” said Eskom.
Negotiations resumed in a peaceful and fashion in the Eskom Central Bargaining Forum.
Regrettably, we did not reach the agreement at the end of July 2018, all parties commenced with the section 150 mediation process in terms of the LRA.
“In July some employees embarked on further unprotected industrial action until August 3, 2018, despite a court interdict and company communication to staff reminding employees that Eskom is an essential service,” said Eskom.
Eskom added that industrial actions events again led to power system constraints and load shedding.