Strike action has hit South Africa's automotive industry once again this week with the National Union of Metal Workers South Africa (NUMSA) again calling for workers in the automotive sector to take action today over a wage dispute.
"Our selected demands include a minimum of R20 per hour in the motor sector and not less than a double digit wage increase in both motor and tyre sectors,” NUMSA spokesman Castro Ngobese said in a statement.
The action will involve 70,000 workers in the components, repair, dealership and fuel retail sectors, and workers from Dunlop, Bridgestone and Continental are also expected to strike in KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape and the North West provinces.
General Motors South Africa's production facilities have not been affected by the current tyre and rubber and component industry strike,” GMSA spokesperson Denise van Huyssteen told Automotive Logistics News this morning. “However, the longer this strike action continues the greater the risk becomes that the operations of manufacturers will be halted resulting in loss of production and also short-time for employees.
“Industrial action like this affects the viability of the industry and sends a negative message regarding labour cost and flexibility in South Africa, and in so doing we risk becoming a less attractive destination for future investment. In the interest of protecting the South African economy, it is absolutely vital that all the stakeholders work together to resolve this strike as a matter of urgency.”
The latest strike follows action taken recently by NUMSA that brought production to a standstill for more than a week and halted exports of vehicles from the country. The strike in mid-August was seen to have a serious impact on the intensive export strategies that many carmakers are pursuing from South Africa, as well as threatening business for finished vehicle carriers. This is being compounded by the further action being taken by unions today.
The largest vehicle exports to overseas markets come from Toyota SA, Volkswagen SA and BMW SA.
All three are among those carmakers affected by the strike. BMW closed its Rosslyn factory outside Pretoria, with a loss of production amounting to around 250 cars a day. Similarly Toyota was forced to stop production at its Durban plant, which produces the Corolla, Hiace, Fortuner and Hilux, losing 520 units a day.
South Africa is the largest car producer on the African continent and manufactures around 400,000 units per year, across 60 brands and more than 1,100 models. The industry accounts for the biggest manufacturing export activity in the country, accounting for about 6% of the nation’s GDP.