Fuel strike: ‘No need to panic’

2010-09-02 00:00

THE effects of the strike by the National Union of Metal Workers of SA (Numsa) might not be immediately felt, Retail Motor Industry of SA chief executive officer Jeff Osborne reassured consumers yesterday.

In an interview with The Witness, Osborne said tbat as long as there are supplies, fuel stations will operate.

He urged motorists not to panic.

“The worst-case scenario is if certain stations close down. Then people will have to practise patience as there will be long queues to the bowsers,” said Osborne.

Numsa’s 70 000 workers in garages, workshops and automotive dealerships downed tools yesterday for better wages and improved employment conditions. Their demands include a 20% wage increment across the board, a 20% night shift allowance, a one-year bargaining agreement and a 70% employer contribution to retirement and medical benefits.

The employer has offered a 6,6 % increment, but there are a number of issues the parties don’t agree upon.

Osborne said, “We are at loggerheads about the bargaining cycle period and the wage model. In the past we negotiated wages every three years, but now the union wants this to be done every year. We are going back to the negotiating table today.”

During random phone calls to local petrol outlets, The Witness learned that some employees had joined the strike as motorists rushed for fuel.

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