Petrol Attendants On Strike

MORE than 70 fuel attendants from various service stations across the country gathered at the Khomasdal soccer stadium on Monday in protest over their wages and working conditions.

Several motorists turned up at some fuel stations in Windhoek without fuel attendants on duty. The Namibia Fuel and Allied Workers’ Union has announced its intentions to hold the nationwide strike starting from yesterday, following failed negotiations with the Association of Service Station Owners (ASSO).

During the first gathering at the union offices last Friday, secretary general of the Namibia Fuel and Allied Workers’ Union (Nafau) David Frans said the strike was to express dissatisfaction with the conduct of ASSO for its deliberate refusal to negotiate in good faith with regards to a minimum wage for service station employees countrywide.

“The purpose of the minimum wage is to improve the living standards of employees, to reduce poverty, to maintain social peace and stability in the sector, and to curb and prevent the exploitation of the Namibian labour force,” said Frans.

The union is demanding a N$4 500 increment as currently the average petrol-attendant earns N$6 per hour and works more than eight hours per day. Fuel attendants say there is no regulation in the industry. They want to know why there is no minimum wage and why many fuel station owners exploit their employees.

Those who participated in the strike said their wages are hardly enough to sustain them through the month.

Protasius Mberema, a fuel attendant at one of the Engine services in Windhoek, says he earns N$355,85 per week. “I have a wife and two children. I also have to take care of my elders and I’m the only breadwinner in the family. My salary is obviously not enough,” he said.

Frans said negotiations had started as early as 2006 but no progress has been made even after several meetings with the employers’ organisation.

The workers say they plan to continue with the strike until their demands are met. A manager at Khomasdal Total service station, who declined to provide his name, said that the employees who took part in yesterday’s strike will be treated as if they were absent without leave. “The ongoing strike is unprotected, therefore employees who participate should expect deductions at the end of this month or possible dismissal,” he said.

Source : The Namibian