Gauteng garages run dry as intimidation shuts Pretoria depot
CAPE TOWN – Intimidation by striking union members at a major petrol hub in Pretoria has brought the depot to a standstill, which has resulted in petrol stations running dry in northern Gauteng yesterday.
That is according to Fani Tshifularo, executive director at the South African Petroleum Industry Association (Sapia), in a telephonic interview with Fin24 yesterday.
Wage talks covering South Africa’s oil refineries and their distribution networks stalled last week as Ceppwawu, the largest of the three unions in the sector, called a strike on Thursday.
With its 15,000 members, Ceppwawu is pushing for a one-year agreement for 9 percent, while the National Petroleum Employers’ Association (NPEA) proposed a 7 percent increase this year and a consumer price index plus 1 percent increase next year.
The strike is ongoing and there has been no notice of suspension, Zimisele Majamane, deputy chair of the NPEA which bargains on behalf of the oil companies, told Fin24 on Monday.
“I’ve heard of some petrol stations, particularly in parts of north Gauteng, running low,” said Tshifularo. “Some stations are completely without fuel.”
“It’s just specific parts of Gauteng that is affected by intimidation by union members at a depot where trucks need to load and deliver petrol.
“This is at the Pretoria depot, which is a major hub for the industry,” he said. “It is a storage facility that all the companies use.
“There is no activity at that depot, as the intimidation is very rife,” he said. “It is a major concern as the reports of intimidation is making it very difficult. We are worried about the safety of employees.”
He said oil companies are trying to put their contingencies in place, but there will be regions that are affected, because when you “re-route your supply it becomes complicated.”
He said Sapia calls on all parties to come to some sort of resolution. “They are negotiators,” he said. “They need to find solutions to the problem.”
He said the country did not have a shortage of fuel, but said the problem will be getting trucks to deliver petrol.
Ceppwawu told eNCA yesterday that the pumps drama should make “logical sense to employers that common ground should be reached soon”.
“It’s unfortunate that you cannot anticipate an action that does not have any negative impact,” said Ceppwawu head of collective bargaining Clement Chitja.
“But it’s not our desire to hit the third person, but it makes the employers to be aware of the situation, so that they rise up and take the initiative to resolve the dispute so that there is no collateral damage when the two parties are fighting.”
eNCA added that some fuel stations have roped in independent truckers to have help alleviate the pressure.— eNCA.