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Trade union Solidarity has declared a dispute with Eskom after the power utility did not turn up for further negotiations regarding salary increases. Eskom has offered a 0% salary increase for employees.

Solidarity intends to hand over memorandums at several Eskom workplaces in the coming week.

According to Solidarity deputy general secretary Deon Reyneke, the trade union plans its protest actions in such a way as to legally subject Eskom to maximum pressure without disrupting South Africa’s power grid and the economy.

“However, employees cannot be expected to fund Eskom’s poor financial management, corruption and the plundering of the Guptas and their cronies through a 0% increase.

According to Solidarity, the utility was reckless in the way it negotiated, and therefore Solidarity calls on SOE to come up with a new offer for employees without delay, for the sake of itself and South Africa.

Reyneke also said that when it comes to the way in which the utility is approaching the negotiations, it is acting in a totally irresponsible way and in bad faith.

“They know Eskom is an essential service and are abusing this status as they believe they would get an interdict should trade unions go on strike.

"That is not what bona fide negotiation is all about, and by Eskom’s unwillingness to further negotiate, as well as its 0% offer for an increase, they are turning up the pressure up in a pressure cooker which could just reach boiling point.

"The utility abuses this situation in an irresponsible manner, as well as the fear with regard to electricity supply that exists among the public, in order to put pressure on the National Energy Regulator (Nersa) to approve tariff increases,” Reyneke said.

“When negotiating within an essential service environment, a much heavier responsibility to negotiate with caution rests on employers. It is gambling with South Africa’s electricity supply,” Reyneke concluded.