Eskom Keeps Wage Offer at 0% as Utility Tries to Boost Finances

(Bloomberg) -- Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. has kept its pay offer to workers at zero percent in a second round of wage talks as the South African power utility struggles to strengthen its balance sheet.

“We still are sitting where we are, at zero percent,” company spokesman Khulu Phasiwe said by phone. “The encouraging thing, though, is both parties are willing to continue talks.”

The negotiations come as Eskom strives to improve the efficiency of its operations and rein in costs. The utility began a process in April to sell a mortgage unit used to provide home loans to staff while Eskom Chairman Jabu Mabuza was reported by Johannesburg-based Business Day as saying new appointments had been halted and that there would be no pay increases or bonuses.

The National Union of Mineworkers, which represents about 15,000 of the utility’s 47,000 workers, approached the talks by calling for Mabuza and Eskom CEO Phakamani Hadebe to quit. The union also said in a June 5 statement that the utility’s decision to sell assets will result in job losses.

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