Johannesburg - The prolonged strikes in the motor industry decimated exports of new vehicles, which plunged 75 percent last month.
Only 6 622 locally made units were exported, compared with 26 646 units in September last year.
However, the strike had a relatively muted impact on domestic sales, which dropped overall by 1.5 percent year on year to 54 281 units last month.
Yesterday Nico Vermeulen, the executive director of the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of SA, attributed the muted impact to inventory levels and the fact that about two-thirds of new cars sold in South Africa were imported.
Year-on-year sales of new cars last month increased by 0.8 percent to 39 792 units but new light commercial vehicle sales fell 9.6 percent to 12 014.
Sales of medium commercial vehicles increased by almost 14 percent year on year to 886 units last month and sales of heavy trucks and buses rose by 3 percent to 1 589 units.
The three-week strike at the seven major vehicle manufacturing plants was followed by industrial action in the automotive component industry, which then caused shortages in local components.
The strike in the retail motor industry, including the component manufacturing sector, is still going on but the Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI) and National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) met Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant yesterday.
Jakkie Olivier, the RMI’s chief executive, said Oliphant had encouraged the parties to settle and explained how her department could assist by speeding up the administrative processes once a settlement had been reached.
He said component manufacturing workers had been offered a 10 percent wage increase in the first year and 8 percent in each of the next two years. The offer to the rest of the retail motor industry was 1 percentage point lower for each year of the agreement.
Castro Ngobese, Numsa’s national spokesman, said shop stewards would report on the employers’ offer to striking members and provide a mandate from workers to Numsa’s special national executive committee today but the strike would continue until the committee took a final decision.
Sydney Soundy, Standard Bank’s head of vehicle and asset finance, said about R20 billion had been lost in production revenue because of the strikes. He estimated 2 000 domestic sales could have been lost last month and said the strike would have a much larger impact this month. - Business Report