Picture: REUTERS
The logo of French oil company Total is seen on a fuel pump at a Total gas station in Paris, France. Picture: REUTERS

TALKS to resolve the ongoing strike in the petrochemical sector continued on Monday, with the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) leading efforts to broker a deal.

While talks are continuing, the chief negotiator for the Chemical, Energy, Paper, Printing, Wood and Allied Workers Union, Jerry Nkosi, said on Monday that the employers had not changed their offer.

The CCMA process has led to the union being in discussions with representatives of the National Petroleum Employers Association (NPEA) for most of the day.

"It’s a CCMA process now but what we are getting is the employers still not to be wanting to negotiate at all," Nkosi said.

The union said there were about 15,000 workers on strike.

The union wants workers across all platforms to have a 9% wage increase in a period of one year, while the NPEA, which represents companies such as Sasol, Shell, BP, Engen and others, is only offering 7% in two years.

The strike started three weeks ago and has caused panic and confusion among consumers.

Consumers have often struggled to find fuel due to disruption of the distribution system. This has resulted in a backlog in petroleum distribution to depots and fuel stations across the country, but mainly in Johannesburg.

However, Avhapfani Tsifularo, executive director of the South African Petroleum Industry Association, said they were catching up with the backlog, and were managing the situation despite intimidation by protesting workers in the past two weeks.

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"We are able to move products and we are catching up on the backlog. We have pushed quite a lot in terms of the backlog," he said.

Viv Corinaldi, the acting director of the South African Petroleum Retailers Association, said there was no panic buying, as had been the case earlier, and the situation was now much more manageable.

"We hope the strike will end by the end of the week," Corinaldi said.