News / Africa

Fuel Shortages Mark Start of South African 'Strike Season'

Striking workers belonging to unions under the Congress of South African Trade Unions march through Durban, July 12, 2011
Striking workers belonging to unions under the Congress of South African Trade Unions march through Durban, July 12, 2011

Fuel shortages have begun to bite in South Africa two weeks into the annual so-called “strike season” as at least 250 gas stations have run out of supplies. Strikes are under way in two major sectors, and more are threatened.

Just four days into the strike by chemical and petroleum workers, Johannesburg and Pretoria are the worst hit by fuel shortages resulting in panic buying of gasoline in some areas and motorists making use of social networking sites on the Internet to keep up-to-date on where to fill up their vehicles.

70,000 workers in these sectors are out on strike and while unions have indicated some progress has been made with employers in the chemical industries, talks in the fuel sector are only expected to get under way in the next several days.

There are concerns that if the strike continues into next week the impact of potential fuel shortages on Africa’s largest economy  will be severe across the spectrum - from the mining sector to hospitals and clinics.

The Chemical, Energy, Paper, Printing, Wood and Allied Products Union is demanding wage increases of between 11 and 13 percent while employers have offered seven percent. The current inflation rate is 4.6 percent.

The strike by 170,000 workers in the steel and engineering sector is already into its second week, and has severely disrupted the manufacturing sector.  Unions have asked for a 13 percent increase. This strike has also been marred by violence, and 20 employer groups obtained a temporary court order which prohibits workers from coming within 60 meters of  employer’s premises.

Gerhard Papenfus, CEO of the National Employer's Association of South Africa, tells VOA the employers sought legal redress because of widespread violence and failure by police in some cases to act against those perpetrating violence.

“We have the situation in some case, that the police are reluctant to enforce these orders and a letter has been written to the commissioner of police and even to the minister of police telling him that they have got to do their job,” said Papenfus.

The police have not responded to the allegations but Labor Minister Mildred Oliphant said Thursday that violence by strikers undermines the system of collective bargaining and weakens the unions engaged in negotiations. Oliphant said the engineering sector is critical to the economy of South Africa and she urged unions to use mediation channels available to them.

Union spokesmen have scoffed at  allegations they are responsible for the violence, blaming it instead on agents seeking to undermine their legitimate demands.

Meanwhile the employers in the coal, gold and platinum sectors are bracing for strikes with the National Union of Mineworkers demanding 14 percent pay increases for these workers.  Municipal workers are also threatening to stop working.

The Reserve Bank has warned that double digit wage demands in the current economic climate threaten South Africa’s long-term economic prospects due to the danger of inflation.

You May Like

US Border Patrol Union Accused of Taking Sides on Immigration

Report alleges agents leaking info to immigration opponents, appearing at their private events; Center for Immigration Studies director defends agents' actions More

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Reporting from Somali capital for past decade, Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal has been working at one of Mogadishu's leading radio stations covering parliament More

Video Rights Monitor: Hate Groups' Use of Internet to Inflame, Recruit Growing

Wiesenthal Center's Abraham Cooper says extremists have become skilled at celebrating violence, ideology on Web More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Interneti
X
Mike O'Sullivan
June 30, 2015 8:20 PM
Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs