South Africa will produce less Polo passenger cars in the next eight weeks as it rushes to meet its export order for its fifth generation Golf, spokesperson Bill Stevens said on Tuesday.
"Our plant in Uitenhage is operating at maximum capacity. In order to fulfil our export order we had to shift production from the Polo line to the Golf line," said Stevens.
He added that VWSA's plant did not have the capacity to produce Polos - which are for the local market - and extra Golf brands for the export market.
Stevens could not tell by how much the company would slash the production of Polos or how many extra Golfs would be produced for the export market. However, he confirmed that the extra export order, which he said was "very small", was destined for the Asian market.
VWSA's move to reprioritise the production of Golf brands has meant that the company has had to slash between 16 and 24 working hours in the eight-week period from October 23 to December 15 in the Polo production line.
However, it seems as if the unions are not impressed. The National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (Numsa) said that it understood the position that VWSA was in, however, in terms of the agreement between the two parties VWSA would not cut salaries by reducing working hours when it had good business opportunities.
"The company has won more contracts for the export market and it is still facing a huge demand for the local market," said Irvin Jim, Numsa's Eastern Cape regional secretary.
He added that had the company experienced sales drops in its Polo brands, the union would have supported the move.
It was unclear on Tuesday afternoon whether workers had embarked on lunch hour picketing with both the union and Stevens giving conflicting statements.
"Our union thinks the wage claim by our members at VWSA through peaceful protests during lunch times is a justifiable one," Jim said.
However, Stevens said there was "no lunch hour picketing at VWSA".