A strike due to start on Friday in the fuel and motor retail sector, has been avoided after Numsa, the Retail Motor Industry and the Fuel Retailers Association reached a provisional wage agreement.

A strike due to start on Friday in the fuel and motor retail sector, has been avoided after Numsa, the Retail Motor Industry and the Fuel Retailers Association reached a provisional wage agreement.

About 180 000 workers at petrol stations, vehicle dealers, panel beaters and component manufacturers were expected to go on strike in an attempt to pressure employers to reconsider the wage settlement.

Numsa spokesman Dumisa Ntuli said the three-year agreement would be effective from September 1. This is the second in principle agreement since the last one broke down late last month, causing Numsa to mobilise its members to start striking on September 1.

Ntuli said wage increases would be 7,5 per cent in the first year, inflation plus one per cent in 2005 and plus two per cent in 2006. He also said the parties had agreed to cap increases at five per cent for 2005 and nine per cent in 2007, in the event of the CPIX falling below five per cent, or rising above nine per cent.

The "agency shop clause" partly responsible for the earlier breakdown in negotiations has still not been resolved, and Ntuli said the matter would be discussed at a meeting scheduled for Monday. The clause would require employers to deduct an agency fee from the salaries of non-unionised workers to pay for union services.

However, RMI executive director Jakkie Olivier said the agency shop clause was not part of the new agreement.