The strike by the Chemical, Energy, Paper, Printing, Wood and Allied Workers’ Union (Ceppwawu), which was affecting deliveries from oil refineries and fuel depots, would have a negative impact on the economy, the SA Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Sacci) warned on Friday.
The chamber expressed concern about the strike, which has heightened fears of fuel shortages because South Africa is a net importer of finished petroleum products.
It said disruptions in the logistics value chain affected the operations of businesses. The business body said South Africa could not afford protracted labour disputes, given the precarious nature of our economic situation.
About 15 000 workers aligned to Ceppwawu went on strike on July 28 after a deadlock in wage talks with the National Petroleum Employers’ Association (NPEA). The union wants a one-year 9 percent increase, while NPEA offered 7 percent in the first year and an increase linked to next April’s consumer price index plus 1.5 percent in year two.
The strike has led to fuel shortages at certain stations. Gauteng was the hardest hit, with 10 percent of stations running dry, according to the Fuel Retailers Association.
Road Freight Association (RFA) technical and operations manager, Gavin Kelly, said: “Operators have experienced shortages and have had their operations interrupted.”
Woolworths Holdings said the strike had not affected the company and deliveries had not been disrupted. “Together with our logistics partner, we have developed a contingency plan,” the company said.
SAA spokesman Tlali Tlali said the airline was in constant liaison with its suppliers. “Should the situation change, we will get a notification in advance to enable us to put alternative arrangements in place,” Tlali said.
SA Petroleum Industry Association (Sapia) executive director Avhapfani Tshifularo said: “We are working closely with law enforcement agencies ensuring the safety of employees and property when delivering petroleum products.”
Sapia represents the main petroleum and liquefied petroleum gas companies.
Eskom spokesman, Khulu Phasiwe said the strike had not affected coal deliveries to the power utility’s stations. Ceppwawu and NPEA were due to meet on Friday. Attempts to get comment from the two parties were not successful.