Solidarity joins fuel strike ‘to defuse it’

2011-07-18 00:00

WHILE the National Union of Metalworkers SA has agreed to return to work, the petrol strike is set to widen.

Many filling station owners are battling to cope with the shortage of fuel, and now Solidarity members are preparing to join the strike today.

Solidarity is joining the Chemical, Energy, Paper, Printing, Wood, and Allied Workers’ Union (Ceppwawu), the General Industries Workers’ Union of SA and the Allied Workers’ Union in a strike that has been going on since last Monday.

The members will begin to strike today and their action will affect mainly Sasol and PetroSA.

Thuthuka Makhanya, CEO of the Fuel Retailers’ Association, said yesterday that the petrol strike is still on despite rumours on Twitter that it has been resolved.

The unions are demanding a minimum salary of R6 000 a month, a 40-hour working week and a ban on labour brokers.

In a statement yesterday Solidarity said it expects the Sasol and PetroSA plants to come to a standstill as almost all of the technical and strategic posts at the plants are filled by Solidarity members, and Sasol’s Secunda plant will be hardest hit.

Solidarity deputy general secretary Dirk Hermann said in the statement, “We are joining the strike with one purpose — to defuse it.

“It would appear to us as if more pressure on the process is seemingly the only way of forcing employers into marathon talks.”

Hermann said a breach of confidence has developed between top management and ordinary employees partly due to the exorbitant increases that have been awarded to top management. He said Sasol’s executive directors’ remuneration has increased by between 13 and 21 times the inflation rate.

“The chief executive officer now earns R55 000 per day, which is almost the same as what an entry-level employee earns in a year. This breach in confidence makes negotiations very tough,” Hermann said.

The Witness reported last week that although filling stations have supplies of petrol, most don’t know how long supplies will last and some have already gone dry.

BP Cascades Service Station owner Zintle Sokhele said they have been without petrol for three days now.

“It’s quite frustrating for us businesspeople because we are losing out. We are looking for a solution and there’s none at this stage.”

Mervyn Brener of the Caltex filling station in Chief Albert Luthuli Street said he has enough petrol to last three days. He has not been affected by the strike so far.

Holidaymakers on the N3 reported no problems getting petrol en route to Gauteng.

Fuel retailers on the South Coast told The Witness that fuel trucks have been making deliveries and that there are no shortages.

More deliveries are expected today.

Numsa has agreed to a settlement offer of 10% for general workers.

Secretary-general Irvin Jim said the union’s national executive committee had discussed the “improved benefits” yesterday and decided that workers need to return to work within the next 48 hours.



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