Petrol stations 'will run dry if strike goes ahead'

Petrol stations will run dry if a strike by the South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu) goes ahead, the Fuel Retailers’ Association said on Wednesday.

“The infrastructure is under pressure in any event—so a strike will cause chaos,” said the association’s CEO Peter Morgan.

He said that Caltex and BP service stations would be the worst hit by the proposed April 7 strike.

“And unfortunately we’re not even part of the negotiations—Satawu are negotiating with the Road Freight Association,” he added.

Morgan warned that if the strike occurred—and if oil companies could not find drivers for their trucks—chaos would ensue.

“There’ll also be a change in motorist buying behaviour for sure—South African motorists know about these problems as we’ve had them before.”

Morgan said that most petrol stations had a two-day lead time at most.

Tabudi Ramakgolo, a spokesperson for Satawu, confirmed to Sapa that the union’s members were likely to strike on April 7.

This was after a failure to reach an agreement with the Road Freight Association over minimum wages.

“Our last meeting took place yesterday [Tuesday], but it seems we can’t find any solution,” he said.

The union was demanding that the minimum wage for long-distance drivers be increased to R6 000 a month from R4 300.

It had asked that its general workers’ minimum wage be increased to R3 000 from R2 000.

Asked if Satawu had taken into consideration the chaos that the strike would cause, Ramakgolo said the union’s members came first.

“Everything has been taken into consideration but the members come first when it comes to take-home pay,” he said.

He confirmed that as many as 60 000 workers could strike—the union itself had 30 000 members in the road freight industry.

The Road Freight Association could not be reached for comment.

However, a notice on its website said Satawu had issued a notice to commence with a strike on April 7 and that the union remained “inflexible”.

The notice added that although the Road Freight Association had had several meetings with the union over the past few days, it advised the community to prepare for strike action.—Sapa

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