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S.Africa’s power producer wage deal ends strike

South Africa’s state-owned electricity producer Eskom has reached a wage hike agreement with power plant workers, ending a two-day strike that could have caused supply disruptions, their union said Friday.

The company conceded to the workers’ demand for a 8.5 percent increase for highest paid employees and a 10 percent raise for those in the lower income bracket.

Eskom generates about 95 percent of the electricity used in South Africa and exports some power to neighbouring countries.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) had accused the firm of practising a race-based pay system, with white employees said to be earning better than their black colleagues.

“The NUM is happy that Eskom has acknowledged that the apartheid wage that exists within the company will be eliminated with specific timelines,” said a statement.

The two-year agreement also include a monthly housing allowance of 2,600 rand ($193 / 173 euros) in the first year, rising to 3,000 rand the following year.

Pregnant women would be allowed five months of paid maternity leave.

“This is a victory for the workers, we are satisfied that we managed to achieve what we wanted,” said NUM spokesman Livhuwani Mammburu.

“We expect our members to report back for duty as from today, the strike is over now.”

Eskom had initially offered a hike of between seven to nine percent.