NUMSA strike prompts Toyota and Ford to halt South African output

Article by Christian A., on July 16, 2014

Toyota Motor Corp. and Ford Motor Co. are halting output operations at their sites in South Africa, no thanks to an ongoing strike that has crippled supply of components. The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) is currently holding strike in the engineering and metals sector in the country.

Mary Willemse, spokeswoman for Toyota in South Africa, disclosed that the carmaker will stop output of the Corolla, Hilux and Fortuner models at its Durban site starting Tuesday as prompted by the ongoing strike in the metals industry, which had cut supply of car components for the models.

Ford spokeswoman Alisea Chetty said that the US carmaker halted production at its Silverton site also because of the strike. Jim Benintende, president of Ford Motor Co.’s Middle East and Africa operations, recently reaffirmed the carmaker’s commitment to South Africa, dousing concerns that the strikes had prompted the US carmaker to mull pulling out of the nation.

Benintende remarked that Ford has a long-term commitment to South Africa, adding that the carmaker will soon unveil news about future products. He added that the US carmaker wanted to respect the strike negotiation process, hoping that all sides would come to amicable agreements as soon as possible.

Mercedes-Benz has said that while production still continues, supplies to its plant in the country were "critical" due to the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) strike in the engineering and metals sector.

BMW spokesman Guy Kilfoil disclosed that the luxury carmaker is now operating on two production shifts instead of three. General Motors, meanwhile, stopped production at its Port Elizabeth site in July 3 and has yet to resume output.

Over 220,000 workers led by the NUMSA metalworkers union have launched a strike action in the country, thereby affecting supply of auto parts. 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. The strike only came to an end after the NUMSA accepted a wage offer from the auto companies.

According to according to union General-Secretary Irvin Jim, NUMSA accepted the offer of a 10-percent wage hike in the first year as well as an 8-percent hike in the second and third years from major employers. Employees at small and medium-sized companies will receive a 9-percent increase in the first year and 8-percent hike in the second and third years.

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