The president of Ford Motor Co.’s Middle East and Africa operations, Jim Benintende, reaffirmed the carmaker’s commitment to South Africa, dousing concerns over strikes that the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of South Africa (SEIFSA) claimed had prompted the US company to mull pulling out of the nation.
SEIFSA said that Ford’s local chief Jeff Nemeth told the federation’s chief executive that "he was under pressure from his head office to pull the company's operation out South Africa." SEIFSA spokeswoman Ollie Madlala said that Nemeth told the federation of concerns within Ford over the strikes.
Over 220,000 workers led by the NUMSA metalworkers union has launched a strike action that has affected supply of auto parts. Benintende said Ford has a long-term commitment to South Africa, adding that the carmaker will soon unveil news about future products.
He said that the carmaker wanted to respect the strike negotiation process, hoping that all sides come to amicable agreements as soon as possible. The strike has already forced General Motors to stop production. Ford and other carmakers may soon stop theirs if the situation continues.
The NUMSA strike followed a five-month walkout by platinum miners that ended just weeks ago. In 2013, a four-week strike by over 30,000 NUMSA members at major carmakers cost the auto industry around $2 billion. Ford is the No. 3 carmaker in South Africa, behind Toyota Motor Corp. and Volkswagen AG. [source: Reuters]