Home News South African auto union calls off strike

South African auto union calls off strike

Published on 06/10/2013

South African car workers said Sunday they would call off a strike, ending industrial action that has crippled production in the key sector for almost two months.

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) said 78,000 component manufacturing workers on strike for the last four weeks would return to production lines on Monday after manufacturers made a new wage offer.

The labourers downed tools just as car construction workers returned to work after nearly three weeks on strike, and the joint impact of the action dragged down exports by 75 percent last month.

“The union has taken a conscious decision to end the strike in the automotive component sector,” Numsa head Irvin Jim told a press conference in Johannesburg.

“Workers will be addressed tomorrow morning in their places of work, and then after that will resume work.”

The union had been demanding double-digit pay rises, but settled for an offer of 10 percent this year and eight percent annually the next two years from the Retail Motor Industry Organisation, which represents component producers.

The industrial action has affected seven plants belonging to major car manufacturers including BMW, Volkswagen, Ford, Mercedes, Toyota and General Motors in a sector that contributes six percent to the economy.

Manufacturers claim that production has been slowed by 3,000 vehicles a day because of component shortages, at a daily cost of $60 million.

The South African branch of German automaker BMW said last week that strikes at its plant had wrecked an opportunity to expand production by bidding to manufacture a new model there.