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South African Power Company Employees Threaten World Cup with DarknessThe July 01, 2010, By Jerry K. Polak
This World Cup has been riddles with tribulations, and the latest drama is no exception. The threat of a power outage during the World Cup surfaced again yesterday when the thousands of workers employed by South Africa’s power supply company turned down a proposed pay raise, which they deemed as to little, and unfair, in favor of taking action in the form of a strike. ;
Officials from the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa and Solidarity joined their colleagues at the National Union of Mine workers in rejecting Eskom’s latest offer of a 8.5 per cent pay rise and a monthly €110 housing allowance. Together, the three unions represent the majority of the workforce employed by the power utility company, numbering some 32,000.
A spokesman for the National Union of Metalworkers said that despite the fact that embarking on a full strike next week would be illegal, since electricity is considered an essential service under the Labor Relations Act, their members and workers affiliated with Numsa had decided to down tools. Solidarity has not yet announced the action it will take following it rejection of the Eskom proposal.
NUM would have been willing to compromise on the wage increase if management would accede to their housing allowance demand. “If you want [us to accept] 8.5 per cent then the housing allowance has to be R2500 (€235),” he concluded. Analysts believe the unions are using the threat of strike action during the World Cup as a bargaining chip.