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SA strike cost carmakers R20bn

2013-09-10 22:16

CARS IN A BOX: The Numsa autoworkers' strike has cost the country R20bn in lost production. This is Mercedes' export dock in East London. Image: Mercedes

Port Elizabeth - The crippling three-week strike in South Africa's motor sector cost the country's manufacturers 50 000 cars in lost production, an industry representative said Tuesday.

Thousands of strikers returned to work after accepting an 11.5% wage increase but on Monday employees at component manufacturers downed tools, which the industry says will again hurt production.

"They have to make up for the lost production of 50 000 vehicles," said Nico Vermeulen, director of the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (Naamsa). "Throughout the manufacturing chain these losses may add up to R20-billion. Although the strike has just ended the industry still faces a tragic and worrying situation with the starting of the other (strike) in the components sector.

"It may be a question of days before production grinds to a halt due to lack of components."

FOUR DAYS' PARTS SUPPLY

Component builders, mechanics and petrol forecourt staff who are members of the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) have been striking since Monday demanding "double-digit" raises. The union represents around 70 000 labourers - around a third of the industry's total - but the forecourt action was little-felt.

Manufacturers said they only had component supplies for four days.

At General Motors SA operations restarted on Monday but had to be scaled down with the new strikes, spokesperson Denise van Huyssteen said.

Volkswagen SA would try to catch up the delays later in the year "but in some instances the lost production is lost for ever", said spokesman Matt Gennrich. "We can only comment on the impact of the fuel and retail motor industry strike after a few days," he added.

Meanwhile Numsa has vowed to continue industrial action.

Vehicle manufacturing contributes around six percent to Africa's biggest economy and accounts for roughly 12% of exports. Last year South Africa exported just under 280 000 cars.
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