[DEBATE] : (Fwd) Satawu strike update
pbond at mail.ngo.za
Wed Apr 15 09:05:47 BST 2009
Protection demanded for drivers
Shotgun riders plan for trucks
April 15, 2009 Edition 1
THE POLICE and the army could be called in to protect truck drivers
delivering fuel to service stations hit by the road-transport strike.
And transport employers have asked the government to investigate the
violence and intimidation that many drivers have suffered.
Fuel retailers yesterday said the army and police could ensure prompt
delivery to service stations experiencing fuel shortages as a result of
the truck drivers' strike.
The strike entered its seventh day yesterday, with the SA Transport and
Allied Workers' Union (Satawu) and the Road Freight Employers'
Association (RFEA) failing to reach a settlement.
South African Fuel Retailers' Association spokesman Reggie Sibiya said:
"Should the strike continue, the association will have to approach the
government to beef up security to enable deliveries to service stations."
He said the association was calling on the government and petroleum
companies to provide security for truck drivers in high-risk areas.
The RFEA has asked Labour Minister Membathisi Mdladlana to launch
investigations into intimidation and acts of violence surrounding the
Satawu has demanded a 13 percent salary increase for drivers, better
working conditions, and four months' paid maternity leave.
The RFEA insists that it has reached agreement on all monetary issues,
including an 11 percent increase for all employees covered by the
bargaining council. Satawu denied this last week.
RFEA labour relations manager Magretia Brown yesterday said negotiations
with the unions would continue into the night. She said the talks
surrounded a dispute relating to the extension of the bargaining unit.
"This issue relates to the demand that all terms of the negotiations
should extend to employees not covered by the bargaining council. In
this regard, the unions cannot prove that they represent any of those
employees," said Brown.
She said the people on strike were protesting on behalf of employees who
fall outside the jurisdiction of the bargaining council.
Meanwhile, the SA Petroleum Industry Association (Sapia) has lashed out
at reports that the country faced a national shortage of petrol and
diesel at service stations.
Sapia executive director Avhapfani Tshifularo said yesterday: "Sapia
(BP, Chevron, PetroSA, Shell, Engen and Total) members have indicated
that the industry is acting in the national interest and maintaining
supplies to the majority of the 5 000 service stations."
He added that this was despite attempts to intimidate staff. "All Sapia
members take the safety of their staff very seriously and I am assured
that no driver is being sent into unsafe situations."
However, some KwaZulu-Natal fuel retailers have raised concern over fuel
shortages, saying their pumps would run dry if the strike continues.
Mthunzini BP garage owner Mike Mattinson said yesterday his fuel supply
was lower than the demand.
He said many motorists were filling up at his garage because there was
no fuel at other service stations in the northern parts of the province.
"People are filling huge drums with fuel in a panic that the country
might run out of fuel. Now my supply does not meet the demand."
Inanda BP garage owner Sbonelo Mbatha said he had enough fuel for two
days but that intimidation of truck drivers delivering fuel was rife.
Retailers also indicated that the strike had affected deliveries to
their stores. Shoprite Group spokeswoman Sarita van Wyk said although
the drivers employed by Shoprite did not belong to Satawu, some
suppliers had experienced delivery problems.
Meanwhile, police were reported to have shot at striking truck drivers
in the Joburg CBD yesterday. Several Satawu members were injured, many
in the upper part of their bodies, by rubber bullets.
The shooting was said to have been sparked after a truck driver was
brought to the front of the crowd and made to dance. Police said the man
had been kidnapped and assaulted.
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