At least 20 000 petroleum industry workers went on strike yesterday, a union official said, warning that pumps at local filling stations could run dry in about three days.
Employees picketed outside refineries and fuel depots, pushing for a 9% pay rise against a 7% offer from oil giants, including Sasol, Chevron and Total SA.
“These workers transport petrol and work in the refineries, so the impact will be huge if the strike is prolonged,” saud Clement Chitja, spokesperson for the Chemical, Energy, Paper, Printing, Wood and Allied Workers’ Union.
“The employers must come to us with better offers.”
Petrol attendants were not included in the sanctioned protest action. The Automobile Association (AA) issued a warning to motorists to fill up their tanks.
“This strike does not include petrol pump attendants, but will impact motorists once pumps at petrol stations run dry,” AA said.
Trade union federation Cosatu said it was unacceptable that employers had not acceded to the workers’ “reasonable demands”, considering that inflation meant food, transport, goods and services had orbited away from the reach of working class families.
Sasol spokesperson Alex Anderson said the National Petroleum Employers’ Association, of which Sasol was a member, had given notice that the strike would impact the petroleum operating businesses within Sasol, including Sasol Synfuels, Natref and Sasol Energy.