NUMSA strike in South Africa ends following pay agreement

Article by Anita Panait, on October 9, 2013

A strike participated by around 30,000 auto industry employees in South Africa has come to an end after the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) accepted a wage offer from companies. NUMSA accepted the offer of a 10-percent increase in the first year and an 8-percent hike in the second and third years from major employers, according to union General-Secretary Irvin Jim.

For employees at small and medium-sized companies, they will receive a 9-percent increase in the first year and 8-percent hike in the second and third years. Workers at seven carmakers operating in South Africa, including Ford and BMW, launched a strike in August and September, leading to around ZAR20 billion ($2 billion) in losses for manufacturers.

A strike by workers in the auto component and retail industries ensued.  The National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa said in an e-mailed statement to Bloomberg on Oct. 1 that vehicle sales in the country dropped in September, with exports falling by 75 percent.

The strikes also prompted BMW to announce on Oct. 3 that it would stop a planned expansion in South Africa. NUMSA leaders are looking to meet with BMW’s managers in South Africa to discuss the plans, which Jim called as "blackmail," Jim said.

He remarked that BNMW’s move is an attempt to prevent future strikes in the industry. He quipped that BMW "can only be profitable if they continue to invest in South Africa," since the carmaker cannot “find the kind of cheap labor” that’s found in the country. He remarked that wage talks with tire producers will likely be resolved without resorting to a strike.

Topics: south africa, strike

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