/ 6 April 2009

Engen: We have contingency plans for strike

Engen has contingency plans should Tuesday’s strike by transport workers go ahead, the fuel distributor said on Monday.

“We have contingency plans that we’ll put into action if the strike goes ahead … this will ensure that the strike only has a minimal effect on our customers,” said company spokesperson Bulelwa Payi.

The South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) and the Road Freight Association were still locked in talks at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) on Monday afternoon in an 11th-hour attempt to avert the strike.

Satawu is demanding a salary of R6 000 per month for long-distance drivers currently earning R4 317 per month.

Employers were offering an overall 11% increase, while the union was demanding 13%, four months’ paid maternity leave and a job guarantee on return to work.

The Fuel Retailers Association warned last week a strike by truck drivers transporting fuel could create problems.

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

Most petrol stations had a two-day lead time, said Morgan.

According to Satawu, the strike would involve at least 30 000 workers.

The Road Freight Association’s labour relations manager, Magretia Brown, said the association met with the union last Monday and Tuesday.

“The problem is that Satawu is asking for a wage hike of 37% when it comes to the long-distance drivers — and we can’t afford it.” — Sapa