Mfundekelwa Mkhulisi

Mfundekelwa Mkhulisi

Motorists and petrol station owners should brace themselves for a dry Easter holidays as truck drivers transporting petrol embark on a national strike from today.

The South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) told Sowetan yesterday that the strike would go ahead despite talks with the Road Freight Association (RFA).

"The strike is on. There is nothing tangible from our negotiations," said union spokesperson Tabudi Ramakgolo.

Last night, Satawu and the RFA were still locked in a meeting at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration to try to prevent the strike that could see petrol stations running dry.

Ramakgolo said the strike would continue until their demands were met.

Satawu is demanding a minimum wage increase of a 13 percent across the board. This means a long-distance driver who is currently earning R4317 a month would earn R6000.

Employers are offering an 11 percent increase.

Satawu also demands that general workers' minimum salary be increased to R3000 from R2000.

Ramakgolo said more than 60000 workers would participate in the strike.

In a statement yesterday, the RFA accused the union of failing to take the current economic climate into account in their demands for wage increases that "are excessive in the extreme".

Chief executive of the Fuel Retailers Association Peter Morgan said the industry was unstable and the strike would cause further problems.

He said South Africa would be without petrol as petrol stations had a two-day lead time at most.