eskomFinancial Mail writes that a perfect storm may engulf Eskom and trade unions as they start a new round of wage talks this month.

The embattled power utility is fighting fires on many fronts and wage talks will only add to its woes. The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) fired its first salvo last week after having settled on a demand for a 15% wage increase. NUM is the largest union at Eskom, representing about 16,000 workers. It’s followed by the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa), which represents about 10,000 Eskom employees. Numsa has yet to hold a meeting to formulate its wage demands at Eskom. There are also complex internal dynamics playing out between the unions at Eskom. For instance, affidavits deposed by NUM acting general secretary William Mabapa and deputy president Phillip Vilakazi allege dodgy coal deals at Eskom that have benefited, among others, the ANC and its investment arm, Chancellor House. The same allegations have been made by SA Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi. NUM, however, is not affiliated to Saftu. Its allegiance lies with Cosatu, which in turn is in an alliance with the ANC. On the other hand, Saftu affiliate Numsa has been silent about the allegations. It is thought that NUM is flirting with Saftu in a misguided attempt to protect its dwindling membership — Numsa has been making inroads since becoming a general union after its 2013 special conference, where it decided to abandon the ANC-led tripartite alliance. Apparently, Numsa’s leaders and Saftu have also clashed, after Saftu refused to campaign for Numsa’s Socialist Revolutionary Workers Party in the previous election.

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