Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Day 25 - Outrageous Demands for Human Rights

Source article:

Johannesburg - Three trade unions for Eskom employees have submitted their demands ahead of this year's salary negotiations, the power utility said on Tuesday.

Spokesperson Hilary Joffe said the negotiation process would begin next week.

Lists of demands were received from the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa), the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), and Solidarity.

Numsa wants more for medical aid

Numsa demanded entry level workers be paid R12 500 as part of a one-year wage agreement and that minimum wage workers be moved to the maximum in their pay scales from July.

In relation to medical aid contributions, it wanted Eskom to pay 80%, with employees contributing the balance.

Numsa wanted the monthly housing allowance increased by R3 000 to R5 000 and a transport subsidy of R300 per month, and for the standby allowance to be increased.

The union sought six months' maternity leave on full pay, and an increase on the 10 days' paternity leave now offered.

Other demands included extending death benefits to workers' families, an essential service agreement allowance of R1 000, and free solar geysers for staff.

In addition, Numsa demanded that Eskom stop using the services of labour brokers from the beginning of July.

NUM seeks more leave days 

The NUM wanted average monthly increases ranging from R3 000 to R3 500, depending on workers' job grades, extended to all employees covered in the bargaining unit.

It echoed Numsa's demands on housing allowances and also wanted staff personal housing loans upped from R75 000 to R120 000 in a one-year wage agreement.

The NUM demanded the essential service allowance to be increased to R1 500.

For maternity leave the union wanted five months on full pay and the sixth month leave at 30% of basic salary.

It also wanted annual leave increased to 25 calendar days, an additional two days for each month of completed service on a pro rata basis, and 21 days of contingency leave per cycle.

The NUM demanded 50 days of trade union leave each year per business unit and another 20 days for each part-time shop steward to attend training courses.

It further wanted Eskom's disciplinary code and procedures, as well as grievance procedures and recognition agreements, reviewed according to best practice.

Solidarity wants phone benefits

Solidarity demanded a 12% wage increase across the board, and also a one-year agreement.

It wanted a R3 500 housing benefit per employee and a fixed daily subsistence allowance of R550 per day.

The union demanded an R85 standby allowance and subsidised telephone allowance, but where an employee wanted to use a private cellphone Eskom should pay R800 per month.

For workers acting in higher positions, Solidarity wanted workers to receive a 10% increase in basic salary after 14 days in an acting role. After six months of acting, the worker should be appointed to the position.

Other demands included that the weekly rest period be extended to at least 48 consecutive hours and a R1 000 electricity allowance for each worker.

Looking at these demands the first thing that comes to my mind is that these demands are entirely insane, but the fact is that these “demands” are entirely reasonable as these people are asking for their basic human right to be able to survive in this world. Let me expand: they are asking for housing, they are means of transportation, they are asking for enough money to support their families, they are asking for clean free energy, they are asking for means of communication, they are asking for enough time to prepare themselves for bringing a child into this world and they are asking for time to live their lives. Aren’t these things that everyone would like to have and should have and should be given as these things are basic human rights?

In the current system these demands are extremely unrealistic and if accommodated the company would likely have to hire more people to cover the work and would have to raise prices to be able to cover their costs so as to make the profit that they see as more important than their workers well being. In turn, with rising electricity prices, pressure would be placed upon the production costs of all other goods which would reduce the real income of individuals throughout the economy and cause the workers to ask for wage increases again so as to maintain their living standard, creating a vicious cycle.

So, no in the current system these demands cannot be met, but this means basically that the current system is falling short of providing everyone with their basic human rights, which makes you consider if this system is worth continuing and if this is the system that we want to leave to our children.

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