SOUTH AFRICA: Strike action forces manufacturers to stockpile
Striking workers, apparently including some transport drivers in South Africa, appear to be targetting ports and deliveries in general, as no end appears in sight to the week-long walk out forcing automotive manufacturers in the country to stockpile vehicles.
Around 4,000 staff belonging to the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) among other unions it appears, walked out seven days ago in pursuit of a 15% wage increase claim, with some motor ferry drivers apparently among the strikers.
And although not directly involved with the negotiations, South Africa's Motor Industry Bargaining Council (MIBCO) components division, says it is closely monitoring developments which could impact suppliers and OEMs as stockpiles continue to rise.
"We are obviously keeping close tabs on it [strike] as it has consequences for the motor industry" MIBCO convenor for components, Mark Roberts, told just-auto from South Africa. "Talks are on-going - whether they are going to resolve it this week I am not too confident.
"Having three different unions does add a certain level of complexity to the negotiations. At some point in time it will have a knock-on effect and they [manufacturers] will have to slow down production as they run out of space to stockpile vehicles."
Roberts added the situation could 'starve' vehicle supply out of Durban both to international customers and also to domestic dealerships in South Africa: "Durban has been particuarly affected," he said.
The dispute also comes straight after two previous huge strikes in the country's automotive sector that have only recently been resolved.
Significant industrial unrest has been simmering in South Africa for some time, with the country's three main pillars of mining, automotive and agriculture, all hit by strike action.
"It will eventually affect our members if the motor manufacturers slow down production, but at this stage we are not considering that," said Roberts.
"The manufacturers are performing to their schedule and are stockpiling vehicles."
SATAWU was not immediately available for comment.