South Africa component manufacturers may only have around a week’s worth of “buffer stock,” as the latest wave of strike action involving parts makers and other sectors, sees yet another massive walkout in the country.

The majority of the automakers’ 31,000 staff only returned to work yesterday (9 September), following their own three-week pay dispute, but are now facing parts shortages as renewed industrial action hits the sector.

Staff in the component, petrol station, panel-beaters, car and spare parts, fitment workshops, truck body and trailer builders industries, as well as dealerships, stopped work yesterday, but talks are planned for tomorrow (11 September) in the latest round of strikes to hit South Africa’s automotive industry.

“Component guys went out on Monday – at this stage talks are planned for tomorrow,” Motor Industry Bargaining Council (MIBCO) convenor for components of South Africa, Mark Roberts, told just-auto.

“We are probably one of the few countries in the world where we have a…strike season. It is at times probably more political than economic.”

Previous estimates have put the numbers this time on strike at around 70,000 and although that number is unconfirmed, the wave of industrial action currently sweeping South Africa has seen huge numbers in many sectors walk out.

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Automakers have a certain reserve of components on which to draw, but as many operate in just-in-time mode, this pool of parts has only a certain shelf life before shortages hit.

“Because we have all been planning and knew there has been industrial action planned, there have been a lot of contingency arrangements, there is buffer stock,” said Roberts.

“We have got generally a week’s buffer stock, but after that it obviously has a very serious consequence.”

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa is leading the walkout – as it did during the automakers’ employee strike – with Roberts saying the labour body has tabled a list of “40 plus” demands it wants met.

“It is quite ridiculous,” said Roberts. “A lot of it is [a] shotgun approach – it normally boils down to five or six key issues. It is rates of pay, bonuses and a lot of peripheral issues.

“They are demanding on average a 20% wage increase – they flirt between percentages and rates of pay – they always hold out for double digit. It is so avoidable, it really, really is.”

NUMSA was not immediately available for comment.