South African fuel strike ends as union signs new pay offer

2-year deal ends 3-week strike

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) — South Africa's petroleum sector employers and striking workers signed a new two-year wage deal on Wednesday, ending a three-week strike that caused limited supply disruptions, an official representing employers said.

Around 15,000 striking workers affiliated to Chemical, Energy, Paper, Printing, Wood and Allied Workers union (CEPPWAWU) went on strike at refineries and fuel depots operated by BP, Shell, Chevron and Sasol , among others.

The two parties agreed a 7 percent wage increase this year and an April CPI plus 1.5 percent hike in the second year, said Zimisele Majamane, the deputy chairman of the National Petroleum Employer's Association.

"The strike will be called off today and employees will have until Monday to get back to work," Majamane told Reuters following mediation by the state labour authorities.

The workers had demanded a 9 percent one-year wage deal, and launched the strike on July 28 when employers declined.

Employers were offering a 7 percent raise in the first year and an inflation-linked increase plus 1.5 percent in 2017, which the workers eventually accepted.

The work stoppage had limited impact in Africa's most industrialised economy which depends on refined petroleum imports to meet demand, with minor fuel supply disruptions reported in Gauteng province, which includes the capital Pretoria and commercial-hub Johannesburg.

"The strike has been called off," said Clement Chitja, head of collective bargaining at CEPPWAWU.

Chitja had said on Thursday that the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbiration, a state agency, was facilitating talks to end another strike by 8,000 workers in the pharmaceutical sector.

The workers are seeking 9 percent one-year increase, far above inflation currently running at 6.3 percent.

Policymakers have warned that such wage increases are a danger to an already weak economy forecast by the central bank to record a zero percent growth rate this year

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