Solidarity's fuel industry strikers to return to work

Fuel industry workers who are members of Solidarity have suspended their strike and will return to work, the union said on Wednesday afternoon.

“Solidarity members of PetroSA will go back to work today and members of the trade union at Sasol Secunda will resume their duties tomorrow [Thursday],” said deputy general secretary Dirk Hermann.

He said several issues that remained unresolved would have to be dealt with at a later date.

“A point is reached in a dispute where a balance must be found between the needs of the employees, the employers, the public and South Africa.”

He said it was in the best interests of all parties to end the strike and continue negotiations.

Hermann said the union hoped another negotiation session would be held before the weekend.

Solidarity joined the strike on Monday in the hope of adding “a sense of urgency” to wage negotiations in the fuel sector.

Last Monday, 70 000 members of the Chemical, Energy, Paper, Printing, Wood, and Allied Workers’ Union (Ceppwawu), the Allied Workers Union, and the General Industries Workers Union of South Africa downed tools.

They were demanding a minimum salary of R6 000 a month and a 40-hour working week.

On Monday employers met with the unions, making an offer of a 10% increase for workers at the lowest level, raising their minimum wage from R4 000 to R4 400. Other levels were offered 8%.

Earlier, Clement Chitja, head of collective bargaining for Ceppwawu said by Thursday afternoon the union was likely to have received feedback from its members as to whether the employers’ offer had been accepted.

The fuel shortages accompanying the strike placed the taxi industry under strain, South African National Taxi Council spokesperson Thabisho Molelekwa said.

Fuel Retailers Association chief executive Reggie Sibiya said fuel shortages had already reached critical levels, particularly in Gauteng townships and central business districts.

KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo were also experiencing shortages.—Sapa


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