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SAfrica paper, chemical workers strike over wages

By on July 20, 2009

South African paper and chemical sector workers began a strike on Monday after wage talks failed, while the Solidarity union said it had reached a deal with petroleum sector bosses for a 9.5 percent pay rise.

The Chemical, Energy, Paper, Printing, Wood and Allied Workers Union (CEPPWAWU) had been in talks with employers for a 10 percent pay increase, but employers only offered an 8 percent rise, which is in line with inflation.

“We are embarking on a full-force strike… the negotiations collapsed because of their (employers) continuous arrogance in terms of not wanting to see to our demands,” CEPPWAWU spokesman Cedric Maluleke told Reuters.

“If we don’t get anything from the employers, the strike will continue throughout the week, until employers have seen to our demands.”

He said there were about 30,000 to 40,000 workers striking on Monday, combining workers represented by CEPPWAWU, the General Industries Workers Union of South Africa (GIWUSA) and the Solidarity labour union.

Petroleum sector workers represented by CEPPWAWU had not joined in the strike, and were still mulling over a 9.5 percent wage increase offered by their employers on Sunday, Maluleke said.

The Solidarity union said it had signed the petroleum sector deal for the 9.5 percent, averting a possible strike by its members that would have affected fuel supplies.

“In terms of the two-year wage agreement that was reached, employees will receive a wage increase of 9.5 percent this year, implemented retrospectively from 1 July this year,” Solidarity said in a statement.

“In addition, employees will also receive a 0.5 percent increase in January 2010, based on salaries as in June this year.”

CEPPWAWU has said it represents 65,000 members. Employers in the sectors it covers include paper makers Sappi, Mondi, petrochemicals group Sasol, Adcock Ingram and Aspen Pharmacare.

Reuters.

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