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Fuel strike threatens taxi industry

Jul 20 2011 11:04 Sapa

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Johannesburg - The ongoing fuel sector strike is threatening the taxi industry's operations, the SA National Taxi Council said on Wednesday.

"If the petrol strike continues, the taxi industry will have no means to conduct business," said spokesperson Tabisho Molelekwa.

Clement Chitja, head of collective bargaining for the Chemical, Energy, Paper, Printing, Wood, and Allied Workers Union (Ceppwawu), denied that the strike was to blame for fuel shortages.

"There are transport companies contracted to deliver fuel. It is a separate industry and they are not on strike."

He said the fuel shortage was therefore "not necessarily" as a result of the strike, but implied there were logistical problems unrelated to the industrial action.

Molelekwa said the fuel shortage was impacting on the taxi industry in two ways.

Taxi drivers had to travel off their normal business routes to find garages that had petrol. This increased the cost of operations, cutting into profits.

Secondly, the additional time it took to find fuel and deviations from normal routes meant the operations would not run as smoothly.

"This is why the industry will find it difficult to operate if the strike continues," he said.

The suspension of taxi services would have severe knock-on effects for other sectors of the economy as many workers would have no means of getting to work,"except walking", Moleleka said.

Fuel Retailers Association chief executive Reggie Sibiya said fuel shortages had already reached critical levels, particularly in Gauteng townships and central business districts.

"Gauteng is the hardest hit. We have heard that at least 300 petrol stations have run dry and the situation is worsening," he said.

KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo are also experiencing shortages.

"If we do not get resolution on the strike this week, Gauteng will soon be entering crisis mode."

Sibiya said many fuel retailers had been forced to send their employees home because there was no petrol to sell.

"These employees are often the main breadwinners for their families and the strike is forcing them to stay at home."

Chitja said by Thursday afternoon the union was likely to have received feedback from its members on whether the employers' offer had been accepted.

On Monday Ceppwawu, the Allied Workers Union, Solidarity and the General Industries Workers Union of SA met with employers for wage negotiation talks.

Chitja said the employers had offered a 10% increase for workers at the lowest level, raising their minimum wage from R4 000 to R4 400. Other levels were offered 8%.

The strike began last week on Monday, with Solidarity joining a week later in the hopes of lending a greater sense of urgency to the negotiation process. 

ceppwawu  |  strikes  |  fuel
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