South Africa braces for fuel shortages… Officials cry foul

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South Africa service stations could run dry as more than 30,000 allied workers union members prepare to go on strike over a wage dispute.

The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) has is a meeting today with SA Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu) and the Road Freight Association over a wage dispute that could see petrol stations run dry.

Satawu has threatened to embark on a national strike on Tuesday evening if no agreement was reached.

Reports say Satawu is demanding a salary of R6 000 (USD$655) per month for long distance drivers currently earning R4 317 (USD$473) per month.

Satawu chief executive officer Peter Morgan is quoted as saying the strike would cause chaos while other prominent figures have indicated that it “could land South Africa in the umpteenth fuel shortage crisis for the past 36 months”.

Most petrol stations had a two-day lead time. If the strike goes ahead it is expected to involve at least 30 000 workers.

Satawu is demanding 37 percent and four months paid maternity leave. Employers have offered the association 11 percent.

The Road Freight Association’s labour relations manager Magretia Brown said the association met with the union last Monday and Tuesday. “But we’ve had no joy… however, there is a meeting set up,” she said.

She added: “The problem is that Satawu is asking for a wage hike of 37 per cent when it comes to the long distance drivers – and we can’t afford it.”

Willie Spies, MP and spokesperson for FF Plus thinks “the courts should intervene and declare the strike to be illegal”, according to him “The FF Plus supports organised labour to bargain collectively but the way in which Satawu is at present doing its bargaining for salary increases of more than 30 percent is not collective bargaining. It is blackmail.”

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