Fuel sector talks start tomorrow

2011-07-15 09:05

Fresh wage talks in the fuel sector will start tomorrow, the National Petroleum Employers’ Association said today.

“There is no meeting for today [Friday],” said chairman Mxolisi Ratsibe.

“We have a mediator and everything is planned for tomorrow. We are just waiting for one of the unions to confirm.”

Chemical, Energy, Paper, Printing, Wood, and Allied Workers’ Union (Ceppwawu) coordinator John Appolis was not immediately available for comment.

Yesterday, he said the strike would continue into next week because employers were dragging their feet on wage negotiations.

Ratsibe said it was difficult to say whether the strike would continue.

“Once we get going, we will do everything possible to resolve the dispute,” he said.

Appolis said employers had not made any wage proposals, and that the last meeting was on June 24, when talks broke down.

The offer on the table at the time was 7%, but the unions were demanding 11%.

“We know the strike is crippling the economy, but our members are locked in a struggle for survival,” he said.

“Every day our members are suffering. It is our intention to seek the profits of the employers. Unless they give in to our demands, we will continue to hit their profits.”

The Fuel Retailers’ Association said it doubted that there would be a resolution during the weekend.

“I think the strike will continue into next week. I don’t see them resolving some of the issues by Monday,” said chief executive Reggie Sibiya.

“It all depends on what the employers are offering, and even if it is resolved during the weekend, the backlogs are still huge.”

Sibiya said that if an offer was made, the unions would need time to consult their members.

“This is a long process. I doubt it will be sorted out over the weekend.”

Sibiya said that 200 service stations in Gauteng had run dry by this morning, and that some stations were refuelling overnight, but that townships were being neglected.

About 70 000 fuel workers from Ceppwawu, the Allied Workers’ Union, and the General Industries Workers’ Union of SA downed tools on Monday, demanding a minimum salary of R6 000 a month and a 40-hour working week.

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