Motorists must brace themselves for continuing petrol shortages because the strike is not about to end. Negotiations on a wage settlement are only due to resume tomorrow.
Ingrid Dimo, the general secretary of the National Bargaining Council for the Chemical Industry, said on Friday that all the parties to the dispute had agreed to meet.
Meanwhile, two major business organisations have struck out at the level of wage demands made by the striking unions and the violence that has accompanied the strikes.
Business Unity SA (Busa) said that while it acknowledged the right of workers to engage in protected strike action, it was deeply concerned at the trajectory that industrial action was taking South Africa in and hoped that realistic settlements would emerge soon.
“A situation where negotiations are pushed to deadlock in the pursuit of wage demands at twice or more than the inflation rate is resulting in violent strike action where neither life, nor limb nor private property is respected. Acts of intimidation are rife,” Busa said.
It said leaders of organised labour needed to accept responsibility for the conduct of their members.
Busa said the strikes also ran counter to the ambitious job-creation targets that South Africa had set itself and also undermined the good work that all social partners, including business and labour, had committed themselves to achieving through the New Growth Path.
The SA Chamber of Commerce and Industry said that it was becoming increasingly concerned at the violence, damage to property and intimidation that was being experienced during the current wave of strike action.
“The strikes and socio-economic protests are resulting in damage to business and the economy that go far beyond the effects of the legitimate withdrawal of labour from any one specific sector or employer.”
Commenting on the ongoing strikes, Moody’s Analystics, a division of Moody’s Corporation that provides economic risk analysis, said that a prolonged disruption in key industries would delay improvements in investment.
Moody’s Analystics said: “Beyond the economic cost, frequent and severe strikes will tarnish South Africa’s reputation as an important global investment destination.”
The strike in the metal and engineering sector is likely to end today and this would see the numerous factories that were shut down during the two weeks of the strike reopening.
The national executive of the National Union of Metalworkers of SA will today announce its members’ decision on whether they accept the new and revised offer – which it will not disclose – made by the employers in the engineering sector.
Trade union Solidarity, which had not joined the strike action, on Friday also said the employers had made a renewed wage offer which would temporarily stop its members from joining the industrial action.
It also did not disclose the amount, but said it would be taking the offer to its members for approval, and would make an announcement tomorrow.
Solidarity represents about 27 000 workers in the metal and engineering industry.