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

    Wife of IS Leader Charged in Death of US Hostage

    Suspect allegedly admitted to being responsible for American aid worker Kayla Mueller, who officials say was sexually abused and ‘owned’ by one IS member

    Year of the Monkey Could Prove Economic Balancing Act for China

    China is up against a tricky situation on the financial front, facing the need to fight capital flight while also stopping a further slide of foreign currency reserves

    Runners Attempt 26-mile South Pole Marathon in Sub-Zero Temperatures

    How alluring is running 26.2 miles at 10,000 feet when it’s minus 31 Celsius out?

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenyai
    X
    February 08, 2016 4:30 PM
    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Sanders, Clinton Battle for Young Democratic Vote

    Despite a narrow loss to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in last week's Iowa Democratic caucuses, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders secured more than 80 percent of the vote among those between the ages of 18 and 29. VOA correspondent Aru Pande talks to Democrats in New Hampshire about who they are leaning towards and why in this week's primary.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.