After a week of protests at Eskom operations that no one has claimed responsibility for plunged the country into Stage 6 load-shedding, two unions are now dealing with members who are pushing for an outright rejection of a new wage offer.
The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa), the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and Solidarity are expected to return to wage talks at the Central Bargaining Forum (CBF) on Friday. Several reports have said Eskom has upped its offer to 7%, though there has been no official confirmation on that.
However, an internal document which Fin24 has seen, signed by NUM and Numsa members, has outright rejected the 7% offer.
"[We demand a] two digits salary increase. It has been over emphasised that so long as Eskom management is unwilling to engage on the other more than 15 demands, therefore no agreement is to be reached between Eskom management and both NUM and Numsa," the document said.
The internal document says union members requested that NUM and Numsa provide members with two buses so that they can travel to Eskom's Megawatt Park in Johannesburg on Friday.
The document is signed by Tumediso Tisane from NUM and Koketso Ramalepe from Numsa. Fin24 has established that Tisane and Ramalepe are both Eskom employees from Lephalale, where Eskom's mega coal-fired power station Medupi is situated.
A source confirmed to Fin24 that the documents came from union members in the region, and that it highlighted divisions in the unions.
Tisane told Fin24 that he was not at liberty to discuss the document and that queries should be directed to national NUM.
However, NUM spokesperson Livhuwani Mammburu called the document "lies", while Numsa spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola said the union had no plans to picket at Megawatt Park on Friday and that the document was "not an official Numsa document".
Both unions issued a statement after an initial story by Fin24 on the document, saying they rejected it as 'fake news'.
"Numsa and NUM will be engaging Eskom in the Central Bargaining Forum on Friday July 2022 regarding the proposal which Eskom has tabled. Any reports or claims in the media suggesting that we have either accepted or rejected an offer at Eskom are false. We call on media houses to be responsible in their reporting. When they publish fake news it can have a very detrimental impact on the negotiations process."
The document throws a spanner into the works of Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan's intervention, wherein he announced that workers would return to work after disruptions to Eskom operations, as bargaining was expected to resume on Friday.
This follows a week of protest over the wage deadlock with Eskom at the CBF, which hindered vital maintenance work at stations, left ten units down, and plunged the country into stage 6 load shedding for only the second time in history.
Numsa initially demanded 15% across the board at the start of the wage tale but revised their demand downward to 12%. NUM's wage demands currently stands at 10%. Solidarity, which condemned the protests and was not involved in the joint statement, made a demand of 5.9%.
Eskom initially made a zero percent offer, which went up to 5% during talks. Following Gordhan's intervention, this offer was revised upward again to 7%.