Relief as fuel workers back on the job
Johannesburg - Fuel sector workers began returning to work on Thursday after an 18-day strike ended.
Workers would return for the night shift on Thursday. They had until Monday to do so.
"Employees have already started returning to work and are working hard to ensure that the delivery of fuel to hotspot areas is stabilised," SA Petroleum Industry Association (Sapia) executive director Avhapfani Tshifularo said.
"Sapia and its member companies are pleased that the dispute has been ended, as the strike did not only affect fuel delivery in Gauteng, but also striking employees who stand to lose financially as a result of the 'no work no pay' principle," he added.
During the first week of the strike, some petrol stations ran out of fuel, largely due to intimidation of non-striking workers.
The situation improved after contingency measures, such as police escorts for petrol tankers, were put in place.
National Petroleum Employers' Association chairperson Mxolisi Ratsibe said production had not been at risk during the stayaway.
Panic buying led to petrol stations running dry.
"Once one petrol station runs out and the media gets hold of it, it initiates panic buying," he said.
Ratsibe said companies would have to assess the impact of the strike.
Engen spokesperson Tania Landsberg could not quantify the effects of the strike in monetary terms, but said a few sites did run dry.
Earlier on Thursday, unions agreed to an 8.5% increase across the board and a 10% hike for the lowest paid workers.
"Today the unions announced that the workers mandated them to accept the offer, and all parties signed the settlement agreement," Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) director Nerine Kahn said in a statement.
She said the pay hike will be backdated to July 1.
The Chemical, Energy, Paper, Printing, Wood and Allied Workers' Union (Ceppwawu), the General Industries Workers' Union of SA, the SA Chemical Workers' Union, and Solidarity agreed to the employers' revised offer made on July 26 during negotiations at the CCMA.
The unions initially wanted 11%.
Ceppwawu national policy co-ordinator John Appolis said the agreement was only for the fuel sector - industrial chemical workers were still on strike.