Picketing for better wages

2013-09-11 00:00

PETROL attendants intensified their demands, marching to various service stations in the city, allegedly intimidating their colleagues into joining them.

The march was led by National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) shop stewards Petros Buthelezi and Nkosinathi Khoza. Yesterday, there were reports of intimidation by the striking petrol attendants at various service stations.

Affected filling stations were various Engen, Caltex, Sasol and Shell garages across Pietermaritzburg, and station owners found themselves having to pump fuel.

In Durban, however, measures have been put in place to ensure smooth service to customers.

Richard Critchlow, owner of Engen convenience centre in Sherwood, said most stations were trying their level best to service customers. “Our customers need to bear with us and try to understand the situation. We’re doing the best we can to service those who need our services,” said Critchlow.

Shell garage manager in Pinetown Shanel Sewlal said they also have casual staff working since their petrol attendants went on strike on Monday.

Numsa shop steward Buthelezi said: “We are not on strike, but we are picketing in solidarity of our national Numsa counterparts who are on strike demanding better wages.”

He said they had 17 demands, but the employer had agreed to only two of them. “We want our women colleagues to enjoy a six-month maternity leave and be paid 100% during their leave,” he said.

Buthelezi said initially they wanted the employer to give them an increase of R30 per hour, but they had decided to drop that to R25 per hour. “We want to ensure that our members are paid R6 000 by 2016, when we enter into a three-year contract with the employer,” said Buthelezi.

He denied that there was any form of intimidation against those who were working while others went on strike. “We were going around picketing and asking for our members to join us as well as recruiting new members into the union, because there are a number of people that we feel should be part of our union, but lack the knowledge,” said Buthelezi.

The protesters were angry that some were working while they were picketing for better wages, but once the employer agrees to their demands they will enjoy the same wage increases. Those working were labelled traitors by striking members and they were also called on to join the strike.

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