STRIKE action in the retail motor industry continued for a third day on Wednesday with warnings that the strike may affect the vehicle manufacturing industry, itself recovering from a recently ended three-week-long industrial action.
About 70,000 members of the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) at petrol pumps, motor component manufacturers and vehicle workshops have downed tools, promising to escalate strike action as unorganised workers in the sector join. To date the strike has had very few consequences for motorists.
Employer organisations the Retail Motor Industry and Fuel Retailers Association have reported “sporadic” effects from the action.
But they have expressed concern that nonstriking workers in the sector have been facing intimidation.
The National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (Naamsa) warned on Wednesday that the strike, coming off a separate work stoppage in the vehicle manufacturing sector, could further disrupt vehicle production and damage South Africa’s international reputation.
Naamsa president Johan van Zyl said in a statement that by the end of this week operations at all vehicle manufacturers would be affected due to a lack of locally produced original equipment components.
Naamsa estimated that aggregate production losses in manufacturing amounted to more than 45,000 vehicles, which translated into a production revenue loss of about R20bn. But Retail Motor Industry CEO Jakkie Olivier said earlier this week preparations had been made in the component sector ahead of the industrial action and that an influence on production should only be expected in a “protracted strike”.
Numsa has promised to intensify its campaign through a series of marches and rallies, saying on Wednesday that 5,000 workers will march in Port Elizabeth on Thursday, with another 8,000 marching in Durban. Numsa national treasurer Mphumzi Maqungo said the turnout at a similar march in Mpumalanga on Wednesday had been larger than the expected 3,000 workers. Negotiations in the sector continued late on Wednesday, and are expected to continue on Thursday.
In the construction sector, strike action continues. The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and employer body the South African Federation of Civil Engineering Contractors were awaiting further details on negotiations from each other.
Both parties have reported “progress” in wage talks following a meeting on Tuesday. The NUM is, however, standing firm on further increases for entry level employees in the sector.