Motor-strike talks to resume

Negotiations in a bid to resolve a crippling motor-industry strike will resume on Monday night, the Retail Motor Industry (RMI) said on Monday.

The four-day strike has seen several motoring-manufacturing plants temporarily closing their doors as parts became unavailable.

”We believe that the problems can be resolved through the negotiations and hope that it will happen soon,” said executive director for the RMI, Jakkie Olivier.

He said the RMI’s negotiating team would meet union negotiators again on Monday night.

In the meantime, thousands of motor-industry workers took their protest to the streets, marching in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Bloemfontein and other centres around the country.

Said National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) spokesperson Mziwakhe Hlangani: ”On Tuesday we will make an assessment whether or not to continue with the strike.”

He said the strike was not just about the 9% wage increase demanded by the union but that other issues were at stake.

This includes a minimum wage of R2 200 a month or R509 a week for those paid on weekly basis.

The RMI is offering an 8,5% to a 10% increase based on the worker’s grading, Olivier said.

Meanwhile, several motor manufacturers have closed their production plants. They include Volkswagen South Africa, which closed its Uitenhage plant last week and was reportedly losing production of up to 500 vehicles a day.

DaimlerChrysler had closed its East London plant, company spokesperson Aradhna Padayachie said.

Production of the new Mercedes-Benz C-Class, which was to be manufactured at the plant, was also falling behind schedule.

”We hope to make up the production by working over weekends once the strike is resolved,” Padayachie said.

At Nissan South Africa, production plant workers on strike since last week Wednesday were sent back home after they were asked to report for duty on Monday morning.

”We hoped that the strike would have been resolved over the weekend, so we had workers come in this morning, but we had to sent them back home,” said Henry Grimbeek, director of corporate services.

He said the company would again make an assessment on Wednesday.

”We are also working on recovery plans to make good on the production units lost due to the strike action,” he said.

BMW’S plant in Rosslyn, north of Pretoria, was closed for scheduled maintenance but was due to restart production next week, said the company’s manager for automotive communication, Guy Kilfoil

”If the strike goes beyond Thursday we would obviously have no parts to begin production with on Monday,” he said.

Several other motor manufacturers, including Toyota and Ford, were also affected by the strike. — Sapa

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