Motor-vehicle plants disrupted as workers strike

Plants owned by several car makers in South Africa were disrupted on Monday as about 30 000 workers went on strike to demand higher pay.

"The strike started today [Monday],” Castro Ngobese, a spokesperson for the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa), said on Monday. “There are no negotiations, since they broke down. We are waiting for employers to submit a revised offer.”

The union is demanding a 14% annual wage increase alongside improved medical benefits and shift flexibility, according to Numsa national treasurer Mphumzi Maqungo.

South Africa has been plagued by labour strikes that have spread from the mining industry to other parts of the economy. The automobile industry accounts for almost 7% of the country’s gross domestic product, according to the department of trade and industry.

The affected car makers include Toyota, Nissan, BMW, Volkswagen, Daimler AG, Ford and General Motors. The strike may cost the industry as much as R700-million a day by reducing vehicle output by 3 000 vehicles, the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa said on August 16.

Disruption due to the strike
​“Workers are on strike since this morning,” Lunga Ntsendwana, product communications manager for General Motors, said on Monday. “They have gathered outside the plants. About 80% of the workers are on strike.”

General Motors’s South African unit has two plants in Port Elizabeth. It makes Chevrolet cars and Isuzu trucks in Africa’s biggest economy.

Dudu Mwelase, a spokesperson for Nissan’s South African unit, said in a phone interview that daily output of about 245 units is disrupted due to the strike. – Bloomberg

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