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Three-week South African fuel strike ends as union signs new pay offer

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Latest Updates from Reuters

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) – South Africa’s petroleum industry and striking workers agreed to 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) 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.


(Reporting by Wendell Roelf; Editing by James Macharia)

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Strikes unlikely to curb Kenya tea output

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Latest Updates from Reuters

NAIROBI (Reuters) – Several weeks of strikes by tea pickers in Kenya’s biggest estates in June and July are unlikely to disrupt production enough to warrant a change to the forecast for the year, the agriculture industry regulator said on Thursday.

Tea pickers were awarded a 30 percent pay increase by a court in June but went on strike when tea estate owners refused to pay, saying it would drive up costs and deter investment.

Tens of thousands of pickers in the major growing regions of Nandi and Kericho went on strike in protest. Pickers have since returned to work after the Labour Ministry brokered a deal allowing the award to be implemented in two phases.

The East African nation, the world’s No. 1 exporter of black tea, expects output to jump to as much as 450 million kg this year, thanks to good rainfall, from 399 million in 2015. Tea is one of Kenya’s top foreign-exchange earners.

“There is no change to the output forecast,” Alfred Busolo, acting director-general of the Agricultural, Fisheries and Food Authority told Reuters, adding that the impact of the stoppages was “minimal”.

The government is working to remove numerous levies and taxes on the tea industry to make its exports more competitive.

The labour stoppages had mainly affected big tea estates in the Rift Valley region, which account for 40 percent of production. The rest comes from small-scale farms.



(Reporting by Duncan Miriri; Editing by Edmund Blair and Dale Hudson)

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Thousands more workers to join strike at South African power utility

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Latest Updates from Reuters

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – Thousands more workers at South African power stations plan to join a strike on Wednesday over pay at state-run utility Eskom, their union said on Tuesday.

The strike began on Monday when about 1,500 members of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) downed tools after wage talks stalled. Eskom branded the stoppage illegal because its members are prohibited by law from striking, but said its operations had not been affected so far.

The union said that all of its 15,000 members at the utility, or close to a third of Eskom’s workforce, will stop work on Wednesday. Tuesday was a public holiday in South Africa.

“It is going to be a total withdrawal of labour by our members. NUM members will be striking for the right to strike at Eskom,” the union said in a statement.

Eskom could not be reached for comment on how its operations would be affected on Wednesday.

Eskom said on Monday that arbitration over the wage dispute was continuing. The utility is offering pay hikes of 7 to 9 percent while NUM is looking for increases of 12 to 13 percent.

The labour dispute is the latest problem to beset cash-strapped Eskom, which has struggled to meet power demand in South Africa due to its aging power plants and grid. However, it has managed a year without rolling blackouts that have hurt the economy in the past.


(Reporting by James Macharia; Editing by Susan Fenton)

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Wage strike starts at South Africa power utility Eskom, supplies stable

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Latest Updates from Reuters

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – Workers downed tools Monday at three South African power stations with more set to follow as a wage strike began at state-run utility Eskom, but the company said its operations had not yet been impacted and branded the stoppage illegal.

Paris Mashego, NUM’s energy sector coordinator, told Reuters that wage talks with the utility were in deadlock over the weekend. Eskom provides almost all the power to Africa’s most industrialised economy but it was not immediately clear what impact the strike may have on its ability to keep the lights on.

An Eskom spokesman said operations had not yet been impacted and reiterated the utility’s view that its members are prohibited by law from striking.

“Across all of our 27 power stations everything is operating as normal at this stage,” spokesman Khulu Phasiwe said.

“And no one from Eskom is allowed to go on strike because we are defined as essential service providers. Technically anyone who is not at work today will have to explain themselves to their bosses,” he said.

He added that Eskom did not feel that negotiations had collapsed. The utility is offering pay hikes of 7 to 9 percent while NUM is looking for increases ranging from 12 to 13 percent.

Phasiwe also said NUM members early on Monday morning had blocked roads leading to the Arnot power station east of Johannesburg but police had been called in and the roads were now clear.

NUM has around 15,000 members at Eskom, close to a third of its workforce.

The stoppage coincides with a wage strike by around 15,000 workers in the petrochemical industry that has led to some shortages and was entering its second week on Monday.


(Reporting by Ed Stoddard; Editing by James Macharia)

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South Africa’s AMCU union launches strike at Sibanye’s Kroondal mine

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Latest Updates from Reuters

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – Workers began an indefinite strike at Sibanye Gold’s Kroondal platinum mine in South Africa on Friday to demand transport because they were being attacked after working night shifts, their union said.

“The company doesn’t want to provide transport for its employees and these are basic conditions of employment,” Joseph Mathunjwa, president of South Africa’s Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) told Reuters.

AMCU is the main union at the Kroondal mine located in the Rustenburg platinum belt and has about 7,000 workers.

Sibanye’s spokesman James Wellsted said the gold and platinum producer would seek a court order to stop the strike because it was negatively affecting output.

“With metal prices being low for AMCU to now go on strike over issues that are being dealt with is irresponsible. This poses a threat of to the viability of the mine,” he said.

AMCU led a record and sometimes violent five-month wage strike at three major platinum producers in 2014.

Unions and platinum companies are expected to start wage talks in the next few weeks.

Sibanye acquired the Kroondal mine when it bought Aquarius Platinum in October last year for $295 million.



(Reporting by Zandi Shabalala; Editing by James Macharia)

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Shares in South African airline Comair fall 3% as strike continues

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Latest Updates from Reuters

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South Africa’s airline operator Comair’s share price fell more than 3 percent by Friday, the third day of a strike by ground staff demanding higher wages.

Shares in Comair, a franchisee of British Airways and the owner of South African low-cost airline, declined by 3.1 percent to 3.10 rand ($0.2) by 1050 GMT.

The share price has fallen by more than 5 percent since Tuesday, after the United Association of South Africa (UASA) said its members were preparing to strike.

The union wants a 35 percent increase over three years, while Comair is offering a 22.5 percent increase over three years, the airline said on Tuesday.

Both the company and the union were not immediately available for comment.

($1 = 14.5070 rand)


(Reporting by Zimasa Mpemnyama; Editing by James Macharia)

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Glencore says South African coal strike violence worsens

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Latest Updates from Reuters

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – Glencore has laid arson charges against a South African mining union as a three-week coal strike turns increasingly violent, the mining company said on Thursday.

Workers from the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) torched two trucks and offices at the Wonderfontein Mine on Wednesday night, taking the petrol bomb incidents to around 10 since the strike started, Glencore said.

Around 60 striking workers accused of intimidating other employees and damaging nearby farms have been arrested.

AMCU and the police were not available to comment.

Wonderfontein is a joint venture between Glencore and Shanduka Group, which was founded by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa. The mine produces 3.6 million tonnes annually.

Glencore said it was engaging with AMCU leadership over a wage dispute.


(Reporting by Zandi Shabalala; Editing by Joe Brock)

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Workers at Ivory Coast’s state oil company Petroci extend strike

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Latest Updates from Reuters

ABIDJAN (Reuters) – Workers at Ivory Coast’s state oil company Petroci have extended a strike for an additional 72 hours as they sought to bring in employees from other companies in the sector to join their protest against layoffs, union officials said on Friday.

Fifty of Petroci’s 600 employees were made redundant last month and another 150 are expected to be dismissed, union leaders have said, in the wake of an audit recommending that the company cut costs and staff amid falling oil prices.

Workers launched a 72-hour strike on Tuesday.

“Next week we will intensify the strike and see if other employees from other companies in the sector join the Petroci employees in this strike,” said Geremie N’Guessan Wondje, secretary general of the SYNTEPCI union.

Petroci offered to pay 10 dismissed managers six months salary while the 40 other laid-off employees were to receive eight months salary. However, a member of the company’s management said the union was demanding 20 months.

“That’s not possible. We don’t have all that money,” said the official, who asked not to be named.

Petroci is a small oil and natural gas producer but it is heavily involved in the downstream sector, controlling 36 percent of domestic gas distribution in French-speaking West Africa’s largest economy as well as about 30 filling stations.

It also partners with companies with production and exploration operations and manages a logistical base that services offshore blocks.

SYNTEPCI represents workers from 16 companies in addition to Petroci that could be called upon to strike out of solidarity.

Those companies include state-owned Societe Ivoirienne de Raffinage (SIR), which operates a refinery with a capacity of 65,000 barrels per day, as well as logistics firms and fuel retailers such as Total.



(Reporting by Ange Aboa; Writing by Joe Bavier, editing by David Evans)

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South Africa’s Woolworths says strike won’t affect operations

Comments (0) Africa, Economy, Latest Updates from Reuters

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – Workers at a distribution centre for South African retailer Woolworths are on strike over pay, the company said on Monday but the high-end grocery and clothing seller said the strike would not affect operations.

“We can confirm that the National Union of Food Beverage Wine Spirits and Allied Workers at our Midrand Distribution Centre have embarked on protected strike action,” the firm said.

“Business continuity plans are in place for continued operations and our customers should not experience any disruption in the supply of goods to stores.”

The union was demanding wage increases of 110-130 percent for its members, Woolworths said.

Shares in Woolworths were flat at 102.28 rand by 1316 GMT compared with a 0.8 percent fall in the general retailers index.

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