NUMSA vows to fight essential service application in petroleum

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  • National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa said it is part of arbitration at the Commission of Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration to determine if workers in petroleum should constitute an essential service.
  • The NUMSA statement called the application by employers an attempt to circumvent central bargaining processes.


The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa vowed to fight an application by employers in the petroleum industry to have workers declared as essential services, saying it would inhibit their ability to strike.

According to the Labour Relations Act, an essential service is work whose interruption would endanger the health and personal safety of part or the whole of the general population. Essential services include SA Police Service officers and parts of Eskom staff.

The South African Petroleum Industry Association, the Fuel Retailers Association, and Unitrans are making an application for their employees to constitute an essential service.

NUMSA said they were part of arbitration at the Commission of Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration's Essential Services Committee to determine if workers in the industry should constitute an essential service.

"The committee has been asked to consider declaring the production, transportation and distribution of fuel, as essential. If the Committee were to declare this sector an essential service, it would mean that workers will be unable to exercise the right to strike," a NUMSA statement said.

The NUMSA statement called the application by employers an attempt to circumvent central bargaining processes. The statement urged employers to be open to re-negotiating wages and conditions in good faith, instead of preemptively undermining worker's right to strike.

"As NUMSA we are opposing this application on the basis that if these employers succeed to persuade the committee then this will mean that thousands of workers will suddenly be unable to exercise their right to strike which is protected by our constitution," the statement said.

According to Business Tech, petrol stations around the country employed over 70 000 petrol pump attendants in 2019. Hearings at the CCMA's Essential Services Committee began on Thursday, adjourned on Friday and are expected to resume again from late September. 

None of the above mentioned employer representatives responded to requests for comment ahead of this article's submission.

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