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Unions urge Petro South Africa to reconsider retrenching 500 workers

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1 February, 2021State-owned Petroleum and Gas Corporation of South Africa (PetroSA) has announced the retrenchment of 500 out of 1,400 workers. IndustriALL affiliate CEPPWAWU says the retrenchment notice was issued with no reference to union proposals to save the jobs, and is urging the company to consider other options.

PetroSA says it does not have enough money to continue operations.

However, IndustriALL Global Union affiliate the Chemical, Energy, Paper, Printing, Wood and Allied Workers Union (CEPPWAWU), says there are ways to avoid retrenchments, including accessing funds from the national fuel levy which can be used to transform the company.

Mhlangabezi Melani, CEPPWAWU regional secretary for the Western Cape, says:

“The consultations according to Section 189 of the Labour Relations Act were not done in good faith. It seems that the recommendations we made to save jobs at PetroSA were ignored and the company went ahead to issue the retrenchment letters. But we are convinced that if our proposals are considered there will be no need for the retrenchments.”

CEPPWAWU also supports the merger of PetroSA, the Strategic Fuel Fund and iGas into a single national oil company. According to the union, a diversified oil company has better potential for job creation and preservation. The three companies in the proposed merger are state-owned companies that are subsidiaries of the Central Energy Fund.

Paule France Ndessomin, IndustriALL regional secretary for Sub Saharan Africa, says:

“We urge PetroSA to engage with the union to avoid job losses. Retrenchments should a last resort and saving jobs should always be prioritized.”