No fuel shortage yet: Engen

THERE were no fuel shortages today (July 11) despite 70,000 petroleum workers downing tools across the country, Engen Refinery said.

“At the moment there are no shortages. Our sites are all wet as opposed to going dry,” spokeswoman Tania Landsberg said.

“We are doing everything we can to keep our sites wet and have contingency plans in place across the country. “We are in good shape at the moment.” She said there were no reports of violence or intimidation of non-strikers.

Shell SA Refining spokesman Dennis Matsane and BP Southern Africa spokeswoman Glenda Zvenyika could not immediately be reached for comment.

Sapref spokeswoman Margaret Rowe was unable to comment on possible fuel shortages but said the plant had no intention of shutting down.

“Although Ceppwawu has called for a national strike, Sapref does not anticipate that they will need to shut down.

“Sapref intends to continue operating for as long as it is safe to do so,” she said.

Sapref, a joint venture between Shell and BP, is the largest crude oil refinery in Southern Africa and provides for 35 percent of the country’s refining capacity.

Earlier, Fuel Retailers’ Association chief executive Reggie Sibiya said it feared petrol stations could run dry during the strike.

“In terms of determining when it will run dry depends on how organised the strike is,” he said.

“But we are not going to see it today as most stations have stock.” Sibiya urged motorists to be prepared and not panic.

National Petroleum Employers Association spokeswoman Nothemba Noruwana was not immediately available for comment.

Meanwhile, the Steel and Engineering Industries’ Federation of SA (SEIFSA) on Monday said it was hopeful of a speedy resolution with striking engineering workers.

“The bilateral engagements between the two largest players in the industry were reasonably positive in nature and appear to be moving closer to one another in an attempt to reach a possible solution to the current wage negotiation impasse,” said the federation’s executive director David Carson.

He said an encouraging approach was adopted by the employer and trade union negotiators over the weekend.

“I believe that a high level commitment to the cessation of the violence and the conclusion of a mutually acceptable agreement was evident and feel cautiously optimistic that we may begin to move into a position where we could bring this process to a satisfactory conclusion.”

The Democratic Alliance has called on President Jacob Zuma to ensure his administration managed issues pertaining to the current strike season.

Workers from the Chemical, Energy, Paper, Printing, Wood, and Allied Workers Union (Ceppwawu) and the General Industries Workers Union of SA (Giwusa) downed tools on Monday, joining 170,000 metal and engineering workers who went on strike last week.

Giwusa had members in the pharmaceutical, glass, chemical and fast-moving consumer goods, fibre and particle board industries.

They were planning to march to the Chamber of Mines in Johannesburg on Tuesday.

They were demanding a minimum salary of R6,000 per month and a 40-hour work week.

The National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa), the Metal and Electrical Workers Union (Mewusa), and the SA Equity Workers Association (Saewa) were demanding wage increases ranging from ten to 13 percent, and a ban on labour brokers.

Numsa’s Durban secretary Mbuso Ngubane said a planned march would take place in the city centre, starting at 9am.

Workers would hand over a memorandum to Seifsa at the Durban City Hall.

Last week, violence during the strike resulted in one death and six injuries.

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