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Bloomberg:Chevron S. Africa Refinery Hit by Strike, Union Says (Update2)

By Mike Cohen

July 31 (Bloomberg) — Workers at South African refineries owned by Chevron Corp. and PetroSA went on strike after their employers refused to meet their demands for an immediate 8.5 percent wage increase, the Chemical, Energy, Paper, Printing, Wood and Allied Workers’ Union said.

Workers walked off the job at Chevron’s refinery in Cape Town today, the union said today in an e-mailed statement. PetroSA’s workers struck yesterday.

South Africa has six refineries, owned by Chevron, PetroSA, BP Plc, Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Sasol Ltd. and Petroliam Nasional Bhd’s Engen unit. Unions have been pushing them to increase wages above the inflation rate of 6.4 percent, saying workers should benefit more from high oil prices and expanding demand.

Refinery workers belonging to the Solidarity union and the South African Chemical Workers Union had accepted an immediate 8 percent increase and a further 0.5 percent increase in January, said Alfie Ngubo, the chief negotiator for the oil companies.

“All the refineries are operating,” he said in a telephone interview. “It is not a full-blown strike.”

The Chemical, Energy, Paper, Printing, Wood and Allied Workers’ Union said its members working in the paper industry and companies represented by the Pulp and Paper Employers Association had reached a separate agreement on 8.5 percent wage increases. A deadlock with other employers in the chemical, wood and paper industries continued, the union said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mike Cohen in Cape Town

Last Updated: July 31, 2007 04:14 EDT

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