'Improved' offer in petrol strike negotiations

An improved wage offer was tabled during negotiations between unions and employers in the chemical and petroleum sector late Monday afternoon, trade union Solidarity said.

“Employers in the sector this afternoon made an offer of between 8% and 10%, depending on the employment level,” Solidarity deputy general secretary Dirk Hermann said in a statement at 6pm.

Talks in this sector had not been concluded and would likely resume on Tuesday.

“The new offer is definitely a step in the right direction, and we trust that we will soon, once the marathon session is concluded, be able to present the improved wage offer to our members for a new mandate.”

National Petroleum Employers’ Association spokesperson Nothemba Noruwana said: “I have not heard anything yet and until I do, I cannot make any comments.”

The renewed negotiations began at 10am on Monday.

They had been scheduled for Saturday, but did not go ahead because the Chemical, Energy, Paper, Printing, Wood, and Allied Workers’ Union (Ceppwawu) declined to attend.

Ceppwawu coordinator John Appolis confirmed the union’s participation in Monday’s meeting.

About 70 000 workers affiliated to Ceppwawu, the Allied Workers’ Union and the General Industries Workers’ Union of South Africa 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.

On Sunday, Solidarity urged unions and employers to engage in “marathon talks” to end the strike and the fuel shortages it was causing. Hermann said strikers were holding South Africa to ransom.

Sasol announced on Monday it had reduced production at its Secunda plant, in the interests of safety because of the strike.

In her capacity as Sasol spokesperson, Noruwana said Sasol was “optimistic that parties will do everything possible to resolve the impasse”.

The last meeting took place on June 24. The offer on the table at the time was 7%, but unions wanted 11%.—Sapa

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