Ford SA workers return to production line as court halts strike

Workers at Ford SA’s Silverton Assembly Plant. SUPPLIED

Workers at Ford SA’s Silverton Assembly Plant. SUPPLIED

Published Jul 9, 2024


Nicola Mawson

Workers at Ford South Africa plants across the country went back to the production lines yesterday following a Labour Court ruling temporarily stopping a strike by the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa).

At least 3 000 workers affiliated to Numsa went on strike on Thursday for not having received bonuses, pointing out that Ford globally made substantial profits.

According to Numsa’s national spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola, the strike brought production at the vehicle-maker which produces more than 700 vehicles a day to a halt.

The Labour Court upheld an application to interdict the strike, which meant any further strike action would have been considered unlawful.

In a statement issued by Numsa secretary-general Irvin Jim, the union said there will be a further hearing on August 28 to determine whether the interdict will be made permanent.

Jim last week argued that Ford was refusing to share its profits with workers.

“Our members are the creators of wealth and Ford has benefited hugely from the sweat and labour of the workers,” he said then.

“Ford management pretends not to understand the demand and they keep claiming it is ‘impermissible’ and they claim that workers have no right to demand bonuses. We reject this with the contempt it deserves,” Jim said.

Last week, Ford SA’s spokesperson Minesh Bhagaloo said consistency in production was vital when it makes investments, and the union action that affected manufacturing also adversely affected South Africa’s global competitiveness.

Ford directly employs about 5 500 people in SA, and indirectly supports around 60 000 jobs within the value chain as of 2022.