Far away from all the usual biannual September hype emanating from the Messe in Frankfurt, those of us back at the ranch have been keeping an eye on another mess - ongoing industrial strife in South Africa.

Barely had a strike in the carmaking sector been settled with an 11.5% pay deal plus benefits, after around 31,000 workers virtually shut down production in a bitter three-week walk-out that saw Mercedes, Benz, Volkswagen, BMW, Nissan, Toyota, Ford and General Motors affected, as well as two truck and bus companies, with the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (NAAMSA) estimating the strike saw around 3,300 vehicles lost daily, and the Automotive Employers Organisation (AMEO) saying the industrial action had cost US$58m per day, then component making staff - and many in ancilllary roles - walked out. Understandably perturbing automakers trying to get assembly lines started again.

It was interesting to hear one industry insider talking about a 'strike season' which brought South Korea and its annual automakers v unions battle (and it has really been so in recent years) immediately to mind, and also India where industrial relations haven't been too good in recent years.

As I write this, it looks like about 160 suppliers, in some shape or form, of components are out and the assembly lines have about a week of bits left in stock. Our industrial relations and supplier specialist, Simon Warburton, attempts to make some sense here.

I do wonder at the long-term effect of all this. After years of union battles, GM has started to describe Korea as too costly in which to make cars and is slowly starting to move output elsewhere. After years in the apartheid era as a highly protected local assembly industry, South Africa's motor business has developed into something of a global manufacturing supply hub, with both right and left hand drive cars exported - Mercedes C-class, VW Golf, BMW 3 series, Ford Focus for Australia/New Zealand (till the Thai plant kicked in), Toyota Hilux pickups for Europe, and so on. If a major strike is going to kick off every year, future investment in export-oriented plants will surely be pegged back and the work taken to countries where unions are less disruptive?

Here in Europe, Frankfurt dominated and all our coverage, including previews and new model debut list, is grouped here in a handy family take home pack.

In the UK, Geely's newly acquired London taxi unit restarted production and the Nissan-Renault alliance cooperation with Daimler advanced with news Nissan would supply Mitsubishi Fuso with its first light van.

As Russia tightens its requirements for local manufacture rather than kit assembly of foreign models, companies like GAZ group are piling in and there was news this week of two new component deals.

Have a nice weekend.

Graeme Roberts, Deputy Editor, just-auto.com

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