The Mexican Association of the Automotive Industry (AMIA) has called for the government to intervene after a series of blockades that has left vehicle manufacturers in the country struggling for supplies and halted the movement of some finished vehicles.
The blockades, which started in late January, have been carried out by teachers in the state of Michoacán in protest over late payments in salaries, bonuses and benefits.
They have affected rail lines in municipalities including Lázaro Cárdenas, Pátzcuaro, Huetamo and Morelia, disrupting the supply of automotive parts to production lines and imports and exports of finished vehicles.
Michoacán is an important point of entry and exit in Mexico, with the port of Lázaro Cárdenas being the second biggest in the country and the most significant on the western coast in terms of the automotive industry. The port itself has not been affected but rail lines to and from it have been disrupted.
Last year, Lázaro Cárdenas handled 311,744 vehicles – up 42% on the previous year, according to Mexico’s Ministry of Communications and Transportation.
"It is very important that the industry raise its voice and ask for urgent and immediate intervention by the federal and state governments," said Eduardo Solís, president of AMIA, about the blockades.
As of February 9th, the blockades are estimated by AMIA to have cost the automotive industry in Mexico at least 350m pesos ($19m). General Motors, Ford, Honda, FCA and Kia have been the most affected so far, said Solís, who added that Ford had even been forced to stop work for some days at its plant in Cuautitlán Izcalli, north of Mexico City, due to a lack of automotive parts for its Fiesta model.
While the Mexican automotive industry is used to logistics disruptions of various kinds, it is feared the situation could start to put future – and even some existing – investment plans by the sector into doubt.
The blockades also tarnish what has otherwise been a spectacular start to the year for the Mexican automotive sector, which has just reported record production and export figures for January.