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S.Africa's petrol station workers to join strike

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

South Africa's petrol station attendants will abandon work next week, joining a wave of mass protests for higher wages that have already hit several sectors, their union said Tuesday.

According to the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa), some 72,000 "cheaply exploited" attendants who pour petrol at garages will strike from Monday.

They will be joined by mechanics and car dealership employees, after a "wage impasse" between the union and employers.

"The strike action has not been on our agenda, but it has been imposed on us by motor industry ruling oligarchy," the union said in a statement.

It said workers were prepared to halt production in order "exert pressure to the bosses for an equal redistribution of wealth at the point of production."

Meanwhile, the motor manufacturing industry was on Tuesday discussing a 10 percent wage hike with workers, as a sector-wide strike entered its seventh day.

Some workers had accepted the offer.

"The leaders are reporting back to the workers and discussing the new offer by the industry," said Numsa spokesman Castro Ngobese.

The strike by nearly 30,000 workers has crippled production at various plants, including Toyota, General Motors and Volkswagen.

The workers had initially demanded a 14 percent wage hike.

Last week, workers in the gold mining sector announced that wage talks had deadlocked, vowing to stop work.

Around 90,000 construction workers are currently on a indefinite strike since Monday, demanding a 13 percent wage adjustment, against employers' offer of six percent.

In South Africa wages come for review around mid-year, often resulting in disputes, as workers demand above inflation hikes.

Work stoppages in the key mining industry have hit profits in several firms, with some companies mulling massive job cuts to reduce costs.

Last year, violent strikes by mineworkers left dozens dead, including 34 Lonmin workers shot by police in Marikana during a protest.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130827/safricas-petrol-station-workers-join-strike