fuel crisis looms

PETROL stations across South Africa could soon be running dry if workers in the petroleum sector decide to down tools

Petroleum sector workers represented by the Chemical, Energy, Paper, Printing, Wood and Allied Workers Union (Ceppwawu) were yet to decide if they will accept a 9,5percent wage increase offered by their employers on Sunday.

But trade union Solidarity yesterday clinched a deal with petroleum sector bosses for a 9,5percent pay rise - averting a strike by its 3000 members that would have affected fuel supplies.

Paper and chemical sector workers began a strike yesterday after wage talks failed, while Solidarity said it had reached a deal with petroleum sector bosses for a 9,5percent pay rise.

Solidarity spokesperson Ilze Nieuwoudt said the union was in consultation with its members "for a final mandate" about whether to go on strike or not.

About 45000 dissatisfied members of Ceppwawu downed tools yesterday, demanding a 13percent wage hike. The employers have put 8percent on the table.

The union's deputy general secretary, Thabane Mdlalose, said the industrial action started in the petroleum, pharmaceutical and paper industry yesterday when all the union members "dishonoured" the morning shift.

Workers initially wanted a 10percent increase but later raised the demand to 13percent.

Mdlalose said: "We are prepared to settle for a double digit but nothing below 10percent. We will strike until the day employers come with a good offer."

The strike covers workers represented by Ceppwawu, the General Industries Workers Union of South Africa and Solidarity.

Efficient Group economist Dawie Roodt said the settlement might be around 11percent and that the strike won't last long.