Petrol attendants add fuel to the fire

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Days after Gauteng was plunged into darkness, motorists in the province face another potential crisis as tens of thousands of workers at fuel stations and garages embark on a strike today.

Members of the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) are demanding double digit increases, an amendment to the industry peace clause, shift allowances and the banning of labour brokers.

Numsa secretary-general Irvin Jim said yesterday the employers took an irresponsible stance in pulling back from the engagement which was intended to avert a national strike.

“Employers were unhappy with Numsa’s decision to issue a 48-hour notice. Under these circumstances Numsa resolved to proceed with strike action to push for improvements.”

Garage workers will strike in Gauteng and the Western Cape.

“We are not coming up with extravagant demands for the garage workers.

“These are the people who stand there on cold nights … The bosses must respond quickly,” he said.

Jim said although the public would feel the brunt of the strike, it must unite in solidarity behind the workers calling for decent living wages.

Numsa deputy general-secretary Karl Cloete said the union was expecting between 30 000 and 40 000 members to take part in the strike.

“Numsa represents 70 000 of the 300 000 workers. These are workers who are not affiliated to any trade union,” he said.

Cloete added that a large number of workers in rural areas who are not affiliated to any union are expected to join the strike.

Retail Motor Industry Organisation CEO and the industry’s chief negotiator, Jakkie Olivier, said there were contingency plans in place to deal with the strike.

“We knew about the strike and we are ready. From (Monday) when the strike commences we will meet with Numsa in a negotiation room and try to find a solution as quickly as possible,” he said.

However, Olivier described Numsa’s demands as “unreasonable”, saying the industry could not afford to pay what it wanted.

Meanwhile, Numsa also announced that members in the auto manufacturing sector will return to work today. The strike has seen production lines at major vehicle manufactures, including Toyota, Nissan and BMW, come to a complete standstill.

The settlement offer includes a wage increase and a cash adjustment amounting to 11.5% for 2013, 10% for 2014 and 10% for 2015, a yearly R1 200 transport allowance and medical and housing allowances.

today in print

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