According to South African trade unions, the damage caused during the labour unrest at the power utility two weeks ago ran up to billions of rand, compared to the R1.2bn it would cost to increase the salaries of workers.
The unions believe that Eskom is being short-sighted by not conceding to their demands, because rejecting union proposals could cost the company more.
The National Union of Mineworkers, the National Union of Metalworkers of SA and Solidarity are negotiating on behalf of 37,000 Eskom employees whose wage hikes are determined through the collective bargaining process.
The unions said: “Once again we have called on Eskom to take this process seriously. When you consider the individual demands of the unions since these talks started, we have made major concessions and compromised on our positions.”
Eskom said it would have to cut operating costs to accommodate salary adjustments. It initially proposed no wage hikes, which enraged workers whose protests affected power supply.
The power utility company topped its 4.7% wage offer with a further 0.3% on Wednesday during the fourth round of the critical wage negotiations with unions.
The 5% offer was rejected by the unions, who have demanded 9% increases in 2018 as part of a three-year wage proposal.
Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene said last week the country could not afford to bail out the utility.