Fuel workers pile on strike pressure

2010-09-08 00:00

PRESSURE continues to mount on owners of local fuel franchises as the National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (Numsa) strike enters its second week.

Last week some garage managers had to stop selling fuel as their staff joined the strike. Some were willing to work, but said they were intimidated into striking.

As the strike intensified, garage owners had to devise means to keep the pumps pumping.

There was no shortage of fuel, in line with the recent assurance by the chief executive officer of the Retail Motor Industry of SA (RMI), Jeff Osborne, when he said there is no need to panic.

A garage manager in Raisethorpe said he had lost about R10 000 each day since the strike started on September 1.

He said he had to do serve clients with only two staff members per shift.

“This is hectic because all my experienced staff are on strike. We work abnormal hours because motorists need fuel.

“Just yesterday a group of protesters approached me and demanded that I release the attendants.

“We are struggling to deal with the daily duties and the strain is taking its toll,” said the manager who asked not to be named.

In other garages around town, the forecourts were quiet, with a few attendants out of uniform at work yesterday.

Numsa members want a 20% general wage hike and a 40-hour working week, while the RMI and Fuel Retailers’ Association are offering only six percent.

During the week, 12 Numsa members in KwaZulu-Natal, including Numsa regional chair Basil Cele, were arrested near a Durban petrol station on Wednesday for alleged public violence.

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