August 2, 2018 / 2:33 PM / 10 months ago

South Africa's Solidarity union accepts latest Eskom wage offer

JOHANNESBURG, Aug 2 (Reuters) - South Africa’s Solidarity trade union said on Thursday it had accepted the latest three-year wage offer from struggling state-run power firm Eskom, but the other two bigger unions demanding pay hikes were yet to respond.

Eskom is on a cost-cutting drive as it tries to emerge from a financial crisis and has been grappling with labour unrest for weeks after it initially refused to raise salaries.

It caved in to union demands for higher pay after protesting workers forced some of its generating units to be switched off, leading to power outages in Africa’s most industrialised economy.

Solidarity accepted a salary increase of 7.5 percent this year and 7 percent next year and the year after, plus an inflation-linked increase in housing allowances and a one-off cash payment of 5,000 rand ($370), the union, which represents mostly skilled workers, said in a statement.

“For all our members across South Africa the right thing to do now would be to help prevent the economy from being hampered by an unreliable power supply,” Solidarity Chief Executive Dirk Hermann said.

The National Union of Mineworkers and National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa, two larger unions at Eskom, are still discussing Eskom’s latest offer with their members.

Eskom met union leaders on Thursday and said it hoped to find a solution to the wage impasse.

Repairing Eskom’s depleted balance sheet is a major challenge for South African President Cyril Ramaphosa. Sources in the ruling African National Congress have said Eskom assets may be sold but this would likely face union opposition.

$1 = 13.3714 rand Reporting by Alexander Winning and Ed Stoddard; Editing by James Macharia and Dale Hudson

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