Petrol stations still receiving fuel despite strike

2011-07-13 07:09

Most petrol stations were still receiving fuel deliveries despite the workers’ countrywide strike, the Fuel Retailers’ Association said today.

“The situation is still alright,” chief executive Reggie Sibiya said.

He said petrol stations may run dry. This would depend on how organised the strike was.

Sibiya urged motorists not to panic but be prepared for fuel shortages.

Engen spokesman Herb Payne said production at the petroleum company’s refinery was as normal.

Engen had experienced no fuel shortages at this stage.

Sasol spokeswoman, Nothemba Noruwana, said contingency plans were being implemented to minimise the impact of striking workers.

“Currently all major complexes at Secunda and Sasolburg are operating with minimal disruption. Operations at Sasol service stations have not been affected by the strike.”

BP spokeswoman Glenda Zeenyika said contingency plans had been put in place before the strike started and the company had maximised its fuel delivery to make sure all its petrol stations were topped up.

About 70 000 fuel workers from the Chemical, Energy, Paper, Printing, Wood and Allied Workers’ Union (Ceppwawu) and the General Industries Workers Union of SA (Giwusa) were demanding a minimum salary of R6 000 a month and a 40-hour work week.

Thousands of striking chemical workers gathered in the Johannesburg CBD yesterday morning to march for better wages.

The unions involved in the Johannesburg march were Ceppwawu, the Allied Workers’ Union, Giwusa and the SA Chemical Workers’ Union.

Ceppwawu handed over a memorandum of demands to the national bargaining council for the chemical industry.

The unions gave employers seven days to respond to their demands. Failure to do so would result in another big industrial action, the striking workers said.

Meanwhile, nothing concrete has come out of wage talks in the engineering sector, the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) said today.

“We hope that the employers come back with something tangible so we can settle this, but it doesn’t look like it,” said spokesman Castro Ngobese.

“I don’t care what nonsense they are talking, but it’s not promising at all,” he said.

Yesterday, the Metal and Engineering Industries Bargaining Council (MEIBC) said talks had reached a “promising” stage.

Numsa said it would be intensifying its strike action, and was prepared for “no work, no pay”.

“The workers know they will not be getting paid for the days they are striking, but they are willing to go through it to improve their conditions in the long run,” said Ngobese.

About 170 000 workers from Numsa, the Metal and Electrical Workers’ Union and the SA Equity Workers’ Association started a countrywide strike last week.

They are demanding wage increases ranging from 10% to 13%, and a ban on labour brokers.

Several other unions from the chemical, transport, petroleum and energy sectors joined in this week.

In other news, striking engineering workers who attempted to open a criminal case against police in Gauteng were intimidated and prevented from doing so, Numsa claimed today.

“Police were hostile and began bullying our members when they went to open a case,” said Ngobese. He was unable to provide details.

Numsa accused law enforcement officers of undermining the industrial action by shooting at and assaulting its members.

Ngobese said six Numsa members were hospitalised after they were assaulted and hit by rubber bullets in the Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

He called on Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa and police chief General Bheki Cele to look into this.

Workers in the metal and engineering sector downed tools last week, demanding a 13% wage increase and a ban on labour brokers.

One person has been killed in strike-related violence.

The Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of SA claimed that striking workers were moving from company to company in search of non-strikers.

Ngobese said it had been consistent in condemning acts of violence, and noted that “some elements” had hijacked Numsa’s strike action for their own agenda.

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