Joint press statement from NUM, NUMSA and Solidarity on the first round of Eskom wage talks

The 2023 Eskom wage negotiations started on the 19th April 2023, at Cedarwood Park (Woodmead, Johannesburg) and will run over three rounds, up to the end of May 2023. We can confirm that in all three unions at Eskom NUM, NUMSA and Solidarity have submitted their wage demands to the employer and are currently participating in the 1st round of wage negotiations that started this week on Wednesday and will end today.

Eskom has tabled an offer of 3,75% wage increase. Eskom has rejected our demands and further said that the conditions of services must remain unchanged. All the three unions have rejected Eskom’s offer of 3,75% because the offer is below the inflation rate of 7,1%.

The three unions are extremely angered by the deliberate narrative from the media that says unions are the ones who are causing load shedding in the country. We call on the media and its handlers to stop this dangerous narrative. This narrative is reckless and irresponsible, meant to influence the public to hate unions, and workers at Eskom in particular. All our members are at work and they are working extremely hard to keep the lights on.

All three unions have called on Eskom to sign a multi-year wage agreement, of two years, so that we can have an opportunity to stabilise the power utility. Eskom has refused to go for a multi-year wage agreement saying the power utility is in dire financial constraints. Load shedding has plunged the whole country into chaos and it cannot be business as usual, therefore a multiyear agreement makes sense under the circumstances. 

Eskom claims that it cannot afford the demands that unions are making. We reject that claim outright. They have not demonstrated that they cannot afford because Eskom has done nothing to reduce the costs of Independent Power Producers (IPPs), Coal costs and Diesel Open Cycle Gas Turbines costs which are sky-rocketing every year, sometimes at 15% or more. They do not have a problem with paying these service providers exorbitantly every year, but workers of the Bargaining Unit, whose benefits and packages as reflected in the annual financial reports have remained the same since 2016/17, are told to accept peanuts. If Eskom is not willing to intervene on the escalating cost drivers of primary energy cost (Independent Power Producers, Coal Costs, Diesel Costs), they must not expect labour to reduce their demands.

We also want to condemn the actions of Thulane Ngele the General Manager of People Relations at Eskom. Mr. Ngele is toxic and his utterances are very provocative. It is ironic because he has been given the position to lead ‘People Relations’ when he has zero people skills. He has no idea what meaningful engagement is, and he is rude, and obnoxious in the manner that he communicates with labour in this forum. On Thursday he had the nerve to suggest that he does not care what workers do, he said

“They can do whatever they want because we defeated them at the labour court.”

Mr. Ngele was the reason that workers embarked on protests at Eskom power stations last year, which exacerbated the loadshedding crisis. Is he saying that he does not care if that happens again? We are cautioning the entire Eskom board and executive management that Mr. Ngele is dangerous and he is not the right person to help us to reach an amicable agreement during these wage talks. If they do not want a repetition of last year, they will remove him from the negotiating team. We want to resolve these talks without incident, because it is in our collective interest to find one another.

The next round of wage talks will begin on 8 May 2023.


For more information, please contact:

Livhuwani Mammburu

NUM National Spokesperson


Phakamile Hlubi-Majola

NUMSA National Spokesperson


Gideon Du Plessis

Solidarity General Secretary