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Numsa demand double digit figure

Fuel Retailers Association says it's commited to finding a solution to the wage impasse.

Petrol pumps at BP. Picture: Clare Matthes/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Fuel Retailers Association (FRA) says it's committed to finding a solution to a wage impasse with unions as thousands of workers including filling station attendants prepare to down tools this morning.

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) expects as many as 40,000 of its members to join the strike mainly in Johannesburg and Cape Town.

Employers have offered a 9.5 percent increase, but the union is adamant it won't accept anything less than a double digit figure.

Numsa's Vuyo Lufele says a protest march has been planned for today in Randburg and Cape Town to lobby non-unionised workers to join the strike.

"We're expecting a 90 percent turnout, which will be a huge impact to the petrol service stations."

Numsa is attempting to secure the increase for 70,000 workers including those not represented by any union.

The FRA's Reggie Sibiya says the association is disappointed.

"We are disappointed that we've come this far. We were always planning to avert the strike and that's why we made a generous offer right from the beginning."

Motorists have been warned the mass action could leave them stranded without fuel.

Petrol attendants were scheduled to downed tools at 6am this morning, but it appears the strike hasn't yet had an impact on Johannesburg filling stations with reports that attendants dressed in plain clothes are still working at a number of petrol stations.

Meanwhile, Shell South Africa General Manager Bonang Mohale says contingency plans are in place to mitigate the impact of the strike.

Mohale says filling stations are prepared.

"We happen to have this strike season almost every year for the last five years. We have now become very effective and efficient in ensuring that indeed there are contingency plans."

'PUBLIC MUST SHOW SOLIDARITY'

Numsa's Karl Cloete said although motorists will feel the impact of the strike, the public must unite in solidarity with workers.

"We're dealing with employers that haven't moved beyond the apartheid period in terms of the labour market."

Cloete said employers are not coming to the table.

"The motor industry employers are reckless as they became upset because we use our right to strike if any engagement doesn't succeed and when they fail to talk to us."

The union's Irvin Jim said the demands are not that farfetched.

"We're not coming up with extravagant demands for the garage workers. These are the people who stand there on cold nights."

But the Retail Motor Industry Organisation said a double digit salary is out of the equation as small businesses can't afford this.

Petrol attendants earn up to R700 per week.

More marches are planned for other areas later this week.

The motor industry strike is estimated to cost the industry R600 million per day in revenue.

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