Johannesburg - Petroleum sector trade unions have declared a pay dispute with employers, Solidarity said on Friday.
“Although we have declared a dispute; as parties we feel positive that we can close the gap - there is no panic stations yet,” said Solidarity chemical industry head Marius Croucamp.
No agreement could be reached during the second round of talks this week between Solidarity, the Chemical Energy Paper Printing Wood and Allied Workers Union (Ceppwawu), the SA Chemical Workers Union (SACWU) and the National Petroleum Employers Association.
The employers represented under the association include Sasol, BP, Engen, PetroSA and Chevron.
Croucamp said only two rounds of talks were permissible during a wage negotiation.
Therefore a dispute had to be declared in order to facilitate a further meeting between the two parties.
“We believe the (additional) dispute round is necessary for constructive negotiations to continue.”
The unions and employers are due to meet again in two weeks' time.
Croucamp said unions were demanding a 10 percent increase while employers were offering an increase equal to the CPI inflation rate plus one percentage point, stretching over two years - essentially 7 percent.
A solution lay “somewhere in the middle” of these two figures.
“It's not doom and gloom. It's not near to what we see in the metal or mining sector.”
Negotiations at the chemical industry's national bargaining council began last month. - Sapa