Fuel strike over: Unions accept 8.5% pay hike

Industrial action in the chemical and fuel sectors has come to an end after employers reached an agreement on wage increases on Thursday.

The nationwide strike began on the July 11 and saw hundreds of petrol stations run dry as approximately 70 000 workers left their posts.

The Chemical, Energy, Paper, Printing, Wood and Allied Workers Union (Ceppwawu) along with the General Industries Workers Union of South Africa (Giwusa) accepted an across the board wage increase of 8.5%, along with a 10% for the lowest paid workers.

“It’s not what we set out to achieve but it’s a reasonable conclusion seeing as though the employers were offering only 7%,” John Appolis Ceppwawu’s national policy coordinator told the Mail & Guardian.

Trade union Solidarity stopped industrial action after only one day and have also signed Thursday’s agreement.

The minimum wage for workers in the sector was raised to R4 400 from R4 000 and antenatal leave of two days for pregnant women was introduced as part of agreement.

The deal will run for a period of one year following the previous agreement which was effective for two years.

Appolis warned that industrial action still remains on the table if deemed necessary.

“If we can’t find an amicable solution when negotiations roll around again, we could strike again,” he said.

Despite Thursday’s agreement, industrial action across the country is due to intensify with workers in the gold mining sector due to go on strike on Thursday evening.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), South Africa’s biggest union, is pushing for a 14% wage increase across the board.

Major companies expected to be immediately affected include AngloGold Ashanti, Harmony Gold and Gold Fields.

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