Power utility Eskom is scrambling to find R634 million to bridge the “apartheid wage gap” in which more than 50% of its employees‚ mostly black‚ are still paid less than their white counterparts.
Internal documents seen by The Times indicate that the state-owned energy firm is projecting to spend R397 million in this financial year alone to bridge the basic salaries of more than 17‚000 employees – 51% of its workforce.
The documents also show that the projected cost would almost double to R634 million if the fringe benefits of the affected employees are also adjusted to the level enjoyed by their white colleagues.
A gender and equality analysis carried out by a leading management consultancy firm on behalf of Eskom‚ showed that “inequalities exist in terms of gender and race” at the parastal.
But trade unions at Eskom have accused the company’s board and management of failing to prioritise the interests of their ordinary workers‚ while they were quick to line the pockets of fat cats following revelations the state-owned enterprise paid R30 million in pension benefits to its former CEO Brian Molefe even though he had been in that position for just 18 months.
Paris Mashego‚ the energy sector co-coordinator for the National Union of Metal Workers‚ said they were angry that Eskom was taking too long to reach finality on bridging the apartheid wage gap.
Mashego said they wanted the proposed number of 17‚946 increased as there were still gender-based income gaps at Eskom.
“Eskom is taking these matters very lightly‚ they’re making workers on the ground very angry and agitated.
“62% of women are based at the minimum of the salary scale… we’re not sure whether the gender part has been included here‚” he said.
Eskom spokesman‚ Khulu Phasiwe‚ has rejected the criticism saying that the company had always prioritised the matter.
He said a study‚ which was completed two months ago‚ had to be conducted first to determine the number of affected employees and related costs.
“Human resources was briefing us two weeks ago. Human resources and finance are trying to come with a plan as to how to close this gap‚” he said.
“It’s gonna be easy‚ it’s not gonna be cheap because all these things involve money… the intention is there is make it happen but there are a lot of variables involved.”
Elsie Pule‚ Eskom’s group executive for Human Resources‚ confirmed that consultancy firm Deloitte and Touche had been assigned to do the costing of the wage bridge.
“A definitive amount has not yet been calculated. We have appointed Deloitte’s in order to investigate what would it cost in order to address the issue of income differentials as stipulated in the Employment Equity Act‚” said Pule.
“The issue of the apartheid wage gap is misleading. It is a misnomer. What it actually means is addressing income differentials. This is legislated and is regulated by the EAA‚” said Pule.