Chemical union to strike July 11

Workers in South Africa’s petroleum, pharmaceutical, and chemicals sectors will go on strike on July 11 over wages, union officials said on Thursday.

The Chemical, Energy, Paper, Printing, Wood and Allied Workers Union (Ceppwawu), which represents 70 000 employees, is seeking a 13% wage increase, almost triple the inflation rate, for 2011/12 and a minimum wage of R6 000 a month.

Employers are offering a 4% to 7% increase, the union said last week. Companies that will be impacted include Aspen Pharmacare, Africa’s biggest generic drug maker.

The union said other companies that would be affected included petrochemicals group Sasol, chemical and agriculture group Omnia, Adcock Ingram, Tiger Brands, and paper maker Sappi among others.

Simon Mofokeng, Ceppwawu general secretary, told journalists the union will serve 48-hour strike notices to the companies by end of business on Thursday, and that workers in the paper industry would begin their action towards the end of next week.

“The strike will impact on lives of ordinary people. There will be a shortage of drugs in hospitals, shortage of fuel, paper and other basic commodities,” he said.

Some analysts say rising labour costs are hurting the long-term prospects of South Africa’s economy as its work force is already more expensive and less efficient than many of its emerging market rivals.—Reuters

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