Gauteng Business News

Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  10 Jun 2010

LABOUR: Survey Indicates a Rift at Eskom


Recent Gauteng Business News

A survey conducted by the trade union Solidarity among its members working at Eskom indicates that there is a complete rift between the employees and management at the electricity supplier. In the survey, 92% of the respondents said that there was a rift between the Eskom management and the employees. In addition, 95% also said that the Eskom management did not care about its employees.

“The results of the survey are indicative of a crisis in labour relations at Eskom. If the underlying labour relations problem at Eskom is not resolved, a satisfactory wage agreement can never be reached. The employees will stick to their high wage demands, not because they are inflation related, but because they are frustration related. The underlying labour relations issues at Eskom need to be resolved, otherwise the company will stumble from one dispute with its employees to the next,” Dr Dirk Hermann, deputy general secretary of Solidarity said.

Almost three quarters, i.e. 73%, of Eskom employees said that they would leave Eskom if they could get the same salary elsewhere. “This answer is an indication of how unhappy Eskom employees are. We often conduct studies among our members, but this level of unhappiness is unprecedented. Therefore, something big must be wrong at Eskom.

“Instead of managing labour relations correctly, Eskom decided to rather put a lid on the boiling pot. They are refusing to put in place a minimum service agreement, thereby depriving employees of the right to strike. Employees feel that they are not allowed to vent their frustrations, with the result that the situation is like a pressure cooker waiting to explode because there is no release valve.

“Eskom manages its labour relations in the same way it has managed its infrastructure. Eskom staff members are not looked after properly, and then management is surprised when the employees no longer want to work for Eskom. Just as Eskom has neglected to ensure that they have coal reserves, the company has neglected to manage its personnel in such a manner that they still have reserve energy. Consequently, the employees’ reserves are now depleted. They are simply exhausted. For many years they have had to maintain South Africa’s electricity network under the most difficult conditions. They had to do it in spite of poor strategic decisions by management,” Hermann said.

Eskom received financing worth billions of rands to upgrade its infrastructure, thereby ensuring sustainable electricity. “However, Eskom will have to invest in its employees as well, otherwise sustainable electricity will not be possible.”

Eskom and the trade unions will probably meet this week, under the supervision of the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), to try and resolve the wage dispute

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