SA oil workers plan to strike indefinitely, starting Thursday over pay.
About 23,000 employees in both the petrochemical and pharmaceutical sectors in South Africa are planning a walkout to demand higher pay.
The union representing SA oil workers has said that the walk-out will potentially hit oil refineries of companies including Shell, BP, Chevron and Sasol.
Shell and BP jointly operate the largest refinery in South Africa, the 190,000 barrel-a-day plant along the east coast. Chevron, Sasol and PetroSA run smaller refineries.
The announcement was made by Clement Chitja, head of collective bargaining, the Chemical, Energy, Paper, Printing, Wood and Allied Workers Union (CEPPWAWU) on Wednesday.
Clement Chitja told Reuters news agency: “We want a deal of 9 percent in one year”. According to him, employer associations were offering smaller increases and looking for multi-year agreements.
Addressing the demands of SA oil workers, the National Petroleum Employer’s Association (NPEA) said that because of a weak economy at home and all around weak global oil prices, they could only offer a 7 percent raise this year, and an April CPI plus 1.5 percent improvement factor the following year.
NPEA’s deputy chairman Zimisele Majamane told Reuters;
“In light of the economic conditions and where the industry is, given the global price decline, we believe our offer is reasonable and are hoping we will find each other,”.
While Sasol was quick to assure customers that there would be minimal disruption despite the strike, Reuters reports that Shell, BP and Chevron were not immediately available to comment.
South Africa is a net importer of refined petroleum products and the strike action, which has the makings of a long one, could lead to shortages. The strike is also positioned at an inopportune period as the country votes next week in a hotly-contested municipal elections.
The stoppage could further damage an already shaky economy, which is forecast by the central bank to stagnate this year after expanding 1.3 percent in 2015.