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

In US, Still No Decision in Racially-charged Case

Missouri town, many Americans on edge over whether jurors will indict white police officer in August shooting death of unarmed black teen More

Corruption Fighters Want More From World’s Strongest Nations

Anti-corruption activists say final communique fell short of expectations and failed to fully address systemic problems More

Philippines Leery of Development on Reef Reclamation in S. China Sea

Chinese land reclamation projects in area have been ongoing for years, but new satellite imagery reportedly shows China’s massive construction project 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.
Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Faminei
X
Daniel Schearf
November 23, 2014 4:32 PM
During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video Law Enforcement, Activists in Ferguson Agree to Keep Peace

Authorities in Ferguson, Missouri, say they have agreed with protest leaders to maintain peace when a grand jury reaches its decision on whether to indict a white police officer in the shooting death of a black teenager. Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis, has been the scene of intermittent violence since the August 9 shooting intensified long-simmering antagonism between the police and the African-American community. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid