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Fuel strike: Union says employers 'not listening'

Staff Reporter

South Africa's fuel workers' union has rejected a minimum 8% wage increase and is holding out for a double-digit hike

South Africa’s fuel workers’ union has rejected a minimum 8% wage increase and is holding out for a double-digit hike, the union’s chief negotiator said on Tuesday.

Talks—which continued for 12 hours on Monday—between the industry and the Chemical, Energy, Paper, Printing, Wood and Allied Workers’ Union (CEPPWAWU) are at a deadlock, said Jerry Nkosi, the union’s chief negotiator, told Reuters.

“We are not reaching an agreement because the employers are not listening to our demands. We are not happy with the revised offer,” he said.

The strike has left petrol stations dry across South Africa for more than a week and will probably cost the continent’s top economy billions of rand in lost output.

On Monday employers raised their wage offer to between 8% and 10%, depending on the employment level. The previous offer was for a hike of between 4% and 7%, while unions have asked for 13%.

Meanwhile, Solidarity said they would seek feedback from their members over the offer.

General secretary Dirk Hermann said he expected the it would take two days to canvass their members.

Sasol spokesperson Nothemba Noruwana said on Tuesday: “We are confident that they will be able to reach an agreement.”

Automobile Association spokesperson Gary Ronald said fuel supplies in the country appeared to be “trickling through”, with Gauteng the province hardest hit by shortages.

“The situation is not as dire as it could possibly be, but it can’t continue like this much longer.”

He said if the strike in the fuel sector was not resolved in the next few days, it could have a negative impact on the economy.

About 70 000 workers affiliated to CEPPWAWU, the Allied Workers Union and the General Industries Workers Union of SA downed tools last Monday, demanding a minimum salary of R6 000 a month and a 40-hour working week.

Solidarity joined the strike on Monday, with the intention of adding a sense of urgency to negotiations. - Reuters, Sapa

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