A strike in the motor industry looks likely after another meeting between the National Union of Metalworkers and Retail Motor Industry failed to resolve the wage dispute.

A strike in the motor industry looks likely after another meeting between the National Union of Metalworkers (Numsa) and Retail motor Industry (RMI) failed to resolve the wage dispute.

Numsa spokesman Dumisa Ntuli says the industry faces the prospect of a “massive” strike next month, involving about 81 000 workers. "We will start with a primary strike action on September 1 and about 60 000 members are expected to participate. A secondary strike the following day will involve 21 000 workers," he says.

Ntuli says the union has rejected an offer of 8,5 per cent increase on minimum rates of pay. The union wants an increase of five per cent above the May consumer price index of 7,7 per cent. It also wants the wages of workers to be backdated to the date of the signing of the collective agreement.

"At the heart of the dispute is for employers to grant increases on the actual rates of pay," Ntuli told . "The strike will be our ultimate weapon because the income gaps are growing."

"Given that the basic hourly rate for a petrol attendant is R5,07 in urban areas and R3,10 in the rural areas, the minimum 8,5 per cent wage increase is wretchedly small ...

"The wages of the majority of motor retail workers have remained stationary for six years. Our research has exposed that motor retail workers are paid less than pensioners.

"It is common for petrol station attendants to work 12-hour shifts for as little as R25 a day. The unfairness of this situation, combined with the steady erosion in the buying power of motor retail wages, manifest in bitterness."

Ntuli says the parties are set to meet again next Monday.