THE National Petroleum Employers’ Association (NPEA) and the Chemical‚ Energy‚ Paper‚ Printing‚ Wood and Allied Workers’ Union (Ceppwawu) have entered into an agreement‚ so ending the petroleum industry strike.
"An agreement was signed and the strike will be called off as of today‚" NPEA deputy chairperson Zimisele Majamane said on Wednesday.
The strike‚ which was in its third week‚ has caused little disruption in the supply of petrol to the pumps‚ as oil companies rolled out contingency plans to cope with demand.
This may have given employers the upper hand in negotiations — in terms of the agreement workers will receive the 7% increase employers were offering‚ and not the 9% increase they wanted.
"It’s a two-year agreement with a 7% increase in the first year (starting July 1) and in the second year it’s an April CPI (consumer price index) plus 1.5% increase‚" Majamane said.
Negotiations between Ceppwawu and the NPEA were deadlocked last week‚ after talks failed on August 5.
However, this week the parties were in talks with the Commission for Conciliation‚ Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) in Johannesburg‚ which has now led to a resolution.
"We are relieved that we’ve eventually signed an agreement and that the strike is officially off‚" Majamane said.
Ceppwawu chief negotiator Jerry Nkosi said that there were some gains for the workers.
According to Nkosi, the employers said the increase would be implemented from the date of the agreement‚ but that the final deal says the increase is effective from July 1. Workers will be paid the increase for the month of July.
Another small victory for workers is the referral of the issue of a shift allowance to the industry bargaining council. Workers wanted an 18% shift allowance‚ but employers were offering 6%.
"This was an intervention of the CCMA. We took (the agreement) to our members and they agreed. We are a union that works on mandate‚" Nkosi said.
Workers have until August 22 to return to work.