Ford, Toyota halt some S African output due to strike
Cape Town, July 14, 2014
US motor company Ford has suspended production at one of its South African plants and Japanese car-maker Toyota plans to follow suit as a manufacturing workers' strike hits suppliers of car components.
The two-week-old strike by 220,000 Numsa union members, who are seeking 12-15 percent annual increases, follows on the heels of a five-month strike in the platinum sector that stunted economic growth and export earnings.
The manufacturing strike has also forced General Motors to close its assembly plant in the southern city of Port Elizabeth over a week ago, despite efforts by Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant to mediate between the union and employees.
"Production at our Silverton assembly plant has been temporarily suspended due to the strike," Ford spokeswoman Alicia Chetty said on Monday, adding that only the company's Pretoria plant was affected and its other plant in Port Elizabeth was operating normally.
Toyota said it will halt some production from Tuesday because of supply chain problems related to the stoppage.
"Toyota will close two production lines from Tuesday at our Durban plant," spokeswoman Mary Willemse said.
Production at BMW, VW, Mercedes Benz and Nissan was normal, although company officials said on Monday they were monitoring the situation closely.
Other companies affected are construction companies Murray & Roberts and Aveng, which are working on the construction of two major power plants for state power utility Eskom.
Numsa rejected the latest pay offer from employers in the steel and engineering sector on Sunday and called on its striking members to intensify the industrial action.
Employers have offered pay rises of 10 percent in the first year, 9.5 percent in the second year and 9 percent in the third year. But unions also have grievances about the role of labour brokers in industry and do not want to be bound to a multi-year agreement, preferring a one-year deal instead.
The union and employers were due to meet on Monday for further talks.
The strike has damaged wider investor sentiment in Africa's most advanced economy, which is teetering on the brink of recession after a first-quarter contraction caused in part by the platinum strike. - Reuters