The strike in the retail motor industry enters its 15th day today as signs emerge that the dispute between the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) and Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI) will be resolved soon.
Among other sectors, the strike has affected the automotive component manufacturing sector and crippled production in the motor manufacturing sector. The retail motor industry strike has also affected petrol service stations, vehicle dealerships, vehicle workshops, new tyre outlets and vehicle body repairers.
Jakkie Olivier, the RMI’s chief executive and chief negotiator, said negotiations were reconvened with Numsa on Thursday night until the early hours of Friday morning but regrettably the strike had not yet been resolved.
However, Olivier believed progress had been made and various proposals and counter proposals were made that were now being tested with their constituents although some sensitive issues were still keeping the parties apart.
Olivier said negotiations would reconvene on Wednesday but until then a small group at leadership level would be meeting with Numsa informally in an attempt to make some inroads into resolving these outstanding matters.
He said one of these issues involved the peace clause, with Numsa favouring a different wording of the clause to allow it to also negotiate and strike at plant level.
Olivier said this concerned the RMI because the motor industry needed stability and predictability to be able to plan and budget for the next three years.
Numsa was also still demanding a double-digit wage increase while, given all the cost items, the RMI’s view was that wage increases of this magnitude were not affordable and sustainable, he said.
“But I’m positive and there is no reason why we can’t get agreement soon to get the industry back to normality. We’re still far apart but closer.
“I sense we are moving to settlement areas” if certain critical issues could be overcome, Olivier said.
The RMI obtained an interdict last week in the Labour Court in Johannesburg against striking members of Numsa in an attempt to get them to obey picketing and other strike rules.
Mark Roberts, the convenor of the component manufacturing sector at the motor industry bargaining council, said some important principles had been concluded and sorted out and he believed “all the beginnings of the foundations are there” for an agreement.
Roberts expressed confidence an agreement would be concluded this week and workers would be back at work by next Monday at the latest.
Production is set to grind to a halt at Toyota South Africa Motors’ manufacturing plant in Durban today.
This will mean the automotive component manufacturing strike has now completely halted production at three of the seven motor manufacturing plants and severely disrupted production at the other manufacturing plants.
Thapelo Molapo, Toyota SA’s vice-president of human resources and training, said on Friday that the company would be shutting down production at the plant today because of a shortage of component supplies.
Mercedes-Benz South Africa and General Motors Africa previously stopped production at their plants for the same reason. – Business Report