A Ford Ranger rolls along the assembly line at the Ford SA factory in Silverton. File photo: Leon Nicholas.

Johannesburg - Ford has a long-term commitment to South Africa, its regional head said, playing down any concerns about strikes that an engineering federation said had prompted the carmaker to consider pulling out of the country.

The Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of SA (SEIFSA) said the local head of Ford, Jeff Nemeth, told SEIFSA's chief executive that “he was under pressure from his head office to pull the company's operation out South Africa.”

Nemeth told SEIFSA of concerns within Ford over strike action, SEIFSA spokeswoman Ollie Madlala said.

Nemeth spoke to SEIFSA shortly before more than 220 000 workers led by NUMSA launched a strike that has hit the supply of car parts.

Asked to comment, the president of Ford's Middle East and Africa operations, Jim Benintende, said: “We have a long-term commitment to South Africa... and we're making news next week about future products.”

Ford wanted to respect the strike negotiation process “so all we have to say is that we hope all sides come to amicable agreements as soon as possible,” he said.

The strike, now in its second week, has already forced General Motors to halt production, and Ford and other carmakers could follow suit if it continues.

Ford currently builds the Ranger bakkie in South Africa for local consumption and export.