South Africa’s fuel industry accounts for hundreds of thousands of direct and indirect jobs in the country – but a sizeable portion of these belong to petrol attendants, who often earn a set minimum weekly wage.
In 2017, the Fuel Retailer’s Association said that petrol stations employ around 70,000 people across the country, with petrol attendants generally fitting the profile of 27 year old men, who tend to stay in the job for up to five years. Engen said it employs around 19,000 ‘service station staff’ at just over a thousand service stations in South Africa.
Petrol attendants’ wages are covered by the minimum wage agreements for the South African motor industry, which has set the “forecourt attendant” minimum wage at R1,126 a week to September 2018, increasing to R1,313 for the 2018/19 period.
This translates to just over R27 an hour or R4,500 a month, currently, moving up to R30 an hour or R5,250 a month next year.
This minimum wage is higher than the proposed national minimum wage (NMW), which will set the nation-wide minimum to R20 an hour, or R3,500 a month. However, as per the terms of the proposed legislation, the NMW won’t supersede higher values negotiated by bargaining councils.
While the gazetted minimum wage gives an indication of the lowest amount a petrol attendant can legally get paid, it is not fully reflective of what petrol attendants actually earn.
For one, tipping petrol attendants has become customary in South Africa, as the attendants perform many “complimentary” services, such as washing windows, checking oil, and inflating tyres. This adds to an attendant’s final take at the end of the month.
Attendants also receive varying wages depending on where they work.
According to jobs portal Indeed.co.za, the current salaries offered in job listings for petrol attendants in South Africa averages at R5,600 a month based on 600 self-reported salaries, and listed job offerings. The reported salaries ranged between R4,520 and R6,500 a month.