SOME 45000 workers down tools

AT LEAST one pharmaceutical company says it is ready to meet the union's demands because it fears hospitals and clinics might run out of vital medication.

AT LEAST one pharmaceutical company says it is ready to meet the union's demands because it fears hospitals and clinics might run out of vital medication.

About 45000 workers went on a massive strike yesterday, threatening the smooth delivery of medicines to hospitals and pharmacies.

The indefinite strike will carry on until management acceded to the union's demands.

The workers are in the petroleum, pharmaceutical, paper and chemical industries.

The union said it had yet to hear from other pharmaceutical, paper and chemical companies.

Chemical, Energy, Paper, Printing, Wood and Allied Workers Union (Ceppwawu) bargaining council coordinator Clement Tshitsha said yesterday: "Aspen Pharmacare said they had a mandate to meet our demands because they had a contract with the government to provide medicines to health centres.

"They said they feared that hospitals and clinics might run out of supplies during the strike."

Workers want a 13 percent salary increase, while employers offered between 7 and 8 percent.

Tshitsha said workers were protesting peacefully across the country, except for one incident in KwaZulu-Natal.

"There was an isolated incident at a chemical factory, where striking workers almost turned violent. Our officials have been dispatched to contain the situation."

This comes after wage talks between the employers and union collapsed three weeks ago.

Meanwhile, the petroleum industry was spared strike action after a new offer was tabled by the employers at the weekend.

The union said the 9,5 percent offer might be agreed on soon if its members cleared it.

Ceppwawu spokesperson Cedric Maluleke said: "Our members are considering the offer."

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