South Africa's Motor Industry Bargaining Council (MIBCO) components division says the majority of plants are running on critical lines as the latest automotive strike continues.

Talks with unions aimed at thrashing out a three-year pay deal are taking place today (25 September) in Johannesburg, but MIBCO estimates it could be Monday at the earliest for a return to work, even if the current lengthy strike is resolved this evening.

It appears most automotive plants have had to shut down - after only just re-opening following last month's prolonged manufacturing strike that saw up to 31,000 employees walk out concerning a separate pay and benefits dispute.

MIBCO is due to meet the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) today in a bid to end the costly walk-out that has seen 100,00 auto sector workers down tools for the third week.

Staff in the component, petrol station, panel-beaters, car and spare parts, fitment workshops, truck body and trailer builders industries, as well as dealerships, are currently on strike in support of improved wages, with the action forming the backdrop to a wave of recent industrial unrest in South Africa.

"Most of the motor plants...have gone down as a result of supply interruption," MIBCO convenor for components of South Africa, Mark Roberts told just-auto.

"They are running some critical lines, but in the main, from this week, most [of] them will be probably significantly compromised and closed down.

"What has complicated things is yesterday was a public holiday, so a lot of people have converted this into a holiday week. The chances of getting people back to work this week [are] rather unlikely."

The Bargaining Council is proposing a three-year deal comprising an 8%, 7%, 7% agreement, but NUMSA is countering with a 10%, 10%, 10% demand.

"The real impact we will probably only know once the strike is over," said Roberts. "Most of them [plants] are experiencing extreme downturn."

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