Strike starts in petrol industry

Workers want 9% but employers offer 7%

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Picture of striking workers outside the Chevron refinery
Striking workers picketed outside the Chevron refinery in Cape Town today. Photo: Bernard Chiguvare

Striking members of the Chemical, Energy, Printing, Paper, Wood and Allied Workers Union (CEPPWAWU)  picketed outside Chevron Refinery today.

“It is only the first day of the strike, but workers have indicated that they are prepared to strike till management has listened to their demands,” said Fazel Ernest, West Cape Regional Coordinator for CEPPWAWU.

Ernest was with around 50 workers picketing outside the Chevron Refinery in Milnerton from 6am to 10:30am.

Placards read: ‘A living wage now’, ‘Labour brokering slavery’.

The union called the strike after wage negotiations with employers deadlocked. The negotiations started early May this year. The union wants a 9% increase, while employers have offered 7%.

The strike action also includes the pharmaceutical industry, where employers offered 7.5% for the first year and 7% for the second year, while workers demanded a 9% increase and a one- year only agreement.

Workers are also demanding the right to bargain collectively, job security (permanent employment after three months) and compensation for rotational shifts, not only night work.

Luyanda Maqham, a machine operator for over five years at the Chevron Refinery, said, “I find it very difficult to meet my daily needs with my current wages. What the company is offering does not make up to a living wage because at the end of the day I end up borrowing and this becomes a routine.”

Wesley Adams, a process controller at FFS Refiners, said, “I feel I am underpaid. Every time we try to negotiate in a reasonable manner. This time we are not going to give in. The employer must meet our demands.”

Ernest said the workers would strike until management improved its offer.

He said workers in the pharmaceutical industry would join the strike tomorrow.

Chevron South Africa spokesperson Suzanne Pullinger confirmed that the strike was the result of unresolved wage negotiations between unions and the National Petroleum Employers Association.

TOPICS:  Labour

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