MOTORISTS worried about filling up could get peace of mind today as unions and employers in the fuel and motor retail industry meet to bring the labour dispute to an end.
On Monday, Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant intervened and had talks with the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) and employers to find a settlement for the strike.
Numsa deputy general secretary Karl Cloete said all parties agreed there was progress made during the meeting. "We are happy with the direction we are taking ... so [today's] session would hopefully seal a deal."
He declined to give details of the offer under discussion.
On September 9, about 70000 workers downed tools and demanded a double-digit wage increase, improved shift allowances and a total ban on labour brokers.
Among the workers were petrol pump attendants and workers in components and automotive retailing, panel-beating, fitment workshops, truck body and trailer building, and dealerships.
The strike entered its third week on Monday. The employers' latest offer ranges from 7.5% to 9.5% depending on employees' grades.
Retail Motor Industry chief executive Jakkie Olivier said that at today's meeting unions and employers would discuss all issues affecting the industry.
Another meeting took place yesterday to discuss in particular the component manufacturing industry. This sector has had a severe impact on car manufacturers and panel-beaters as components to produce and repair vehicles have been in short supply.
Two of South Africa's seven car manufacturing plants have since shut down – the Mercedes-Benz plant in East London and General Motors plant in Port Elizabeth.
"As employers we are committed to engage and there is no reason why a settlement cannot be reached. It just takes leadership from both parties to make it happen now," Olivier said.
Oliphant's spokesman, Musa Zondi, said the minister's adviser would attend today's meeting.