Pickets close fuel outlets

2010-09-03 00:00

PETROL stations around Pietermaritzburg are feeling the pinch since the National Union of Metal Workers of SA (Numsa) embarked on a strike for better wages on Wednesday.

Although they were reluctant to speak to the media, owners and managers said they have already lost huge sums of money in sales.

The manager of the Total garage in Chief Albert Luthuli Street said on Wednesday they were forced by a group of people wearing Numsa T-shirts to release the employees.

She said the group was not violent but they wouldn’t leave until all the employees had joined them.

From 10 am to noon, “while the protesters were toyi-toyiing on the forecourt, we lost more than 1 000 litres in sales”.

“After they had left, the cashier and one staffer manned the bowsers while I remained at the till,” said the manager, who asked not to be named.

The BP garage in Victoria Road was also deserted.

The manager declined to comment.

Tim Dale of the Sasol outlet in Alan Paton Avenue said he has been closed since Wednesday.

He said non-unionised employees had told him they were willing to work but were scared.

“We stayed closed [on Wednesday and yesterday] because the employees were scared.

“This is a terrible blow, but I hope that the parties concerned will be able to work something out,” said Dale, adding that he was not in a position to disclose the amount they have lost.

Numsa members working at petrol stations, workshops, vehicle component manufacturers and dealerships are demanding a 20% across-the-board wage hike and a 40-hour working week.

The employers have offered 6,6%.

On Wednesday Retail Motor Industry chief Jeff Osborne said consumers need not panic as the effects of the strike might not be immediately felt.

KwaZulu-Natal police spokesperson Colonel Jay Naicker said 21 protesters were arrested in Mayville and Chatsworth on Wednesday afternoon in connection with allegations of public violence and possession of dangerous weapons.

Sapa reports that one of those arrested was the KwaZulu-Natal regional chairperson of Numsa.

Basil Cele was granted bail in the Pinetown Magistrate’s Court yesterday, his attorney Dinish Harkoo said.

The case against Cele was postponed to October 7 for further investigation.

He was released on a R1 000 bail. Cele was arrested on Wednesday, in New Germany, Durban.

Harkoo said a final charge is being formulated, and after investigations it will be disclosed what Cele was accused of.

“The charge is not clear. There is public violence, intimidation and resisting arrest,” Harkoo said.

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