Johannesburg - The strike in the retail motor industry, which includes automotive component manufacturers, is crippling production in the vehicle manufacturing industry.
Denise van Huyssteen, a spokeswoman for General Motors (GM) Africa, said its plant in Struandale in Port Elizabeth was unable to produce any vehicles yesterday because of a lack of component supplies and would be unable to produce vehicles again until automotive component manufacturers resumed production.
This means that two of South Africa’s vehicle plants are now not producing at all after Mercedes-Benz South Africa suspended production at its East London plant from the second shift last Monday because of a shortage of component supplies.
Most other vehicle manufacturing plants have been forced to downscale production for the same reason.
Vehicle manufacturing workers only returned to work last Monday after a three-week strike that resulted in lost production of about 3 000 vehicles a day valued at about R600 million and about R50m daily in lost wages.
The Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI) and the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) reconvened for further negotiations yesterday after employers submitted a counteroffer to the union’s demands last week.
The RMI represents vehicle dealerships, petrol stations, vehicle body repairers and automotive component manufacturers, among others.
Thapelo Molapo, the vice-president of human resources and training at Toyota South Africa Motors, said that its plant in Durban was still producing vehicles yesterday and would probably be able to continue to do so for the rest of this week. However, Molapo said the plant was not producing “anywhere near to the levels it was producing before the NBF [national bargaining forum] strike”.
“The plant is producing at very low volumes, about 50 percent or less, because parts supply is very limited,” he said.
Matt Gennrich, a Volkswagen South Africa (VWSA) spokesman, said it was able to run normal production at its Uitenhage plant last week despite the Numsa strike in the component industry due to contingency plans put in place prior to the commencement of this secondary strike.
However, he said VWSA would be able to maintain only limited production this week by running one of the two planned shifts a day because of certain component shortages.
“This means there will be additional volumes lost above those lost during the recent three-week motor industry strike, which further harms our reputation as a reliable supplier of vehicles to world markets. We believe it is imperative that a resolution is found as soon as possible to avoid further reputational damage to the industry and the country and to secure employment going forward,” he said.
Rella Bernardes, a Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa spokeswoman, said that its Silverton plant in Pretoria was producing normally but would “run into some issues” from today and would move from a two-shift operation to a single shift on Thursday and Friday.
Dudu Mwelase, a Nissan South Africa spokeswoman, said its plant was producing normally yesterday and it was trying to stretch its production as much as it could during the component sector strike.
Mwelase said Nissan SA would only know today if it had to halt production or move to a different shift pattern.
Guy Kilfoil, a BMW South Africa spokesman, said last week its Rosslyn plant would be able to produce a limited number of vehicles daily and would lose 240 cars a day for the duration of the strike because of inadequate component supplies. - Business Report