DaimlerChrysler.gif” width=”159″ height=”86″ align=”right” vspace=”10″ hspace=”10″>DaimlerChrysler
won’t withdraw from South Africa though it might transfer irrevocably some production
to Germany if the assembly worker strike did not end soon, The Financial Times
(FT) reported.

“There is no way that we would pull out after just having invested R1.5bn
($US182m),” Christoph Kopke, managing director of DaimlerChrysler South
Africa (DCSA), told the Financial Times Deutschland.

According to the FT, Mr Kopke said an open letter to striking workers that
he published this week been “misinterpreted” by media and unions.
Media reported that the letter threatened the transfer of the entire right hand
drive C-Class Mercedes series production operation away from South Africa to
Germany.

“With every day the strike continues we lose more cars,” Kopke told
the FT. “If we cannot catch up with production [again], we will have to
transfer a part of it… and this part will never be built here again.”

However, industry observers elsewhere say D-C would be hard-pushed to find
the spare capacity in Germany to transfer any RHD production. The German C-class
plants are said to be at capacity and are already shipping CKD kits to a Mercedes
plant in Brazil to build 7,000 LHD cars for the USA and Canada this year.

The Financial Times quoted DaimlerChrysler’s general works council chairman
and supervisory board member Erich Klemm as saying that a transfer of production
to Germany would be impossible.

He added that he condemned “DaimlerChrysler South Africa’s attempt to
influence the negotiations by threatening a production transfer”, the FT
said.

The newspaper said any decision by DaimlerChrysler, South Africa’s largest
foreign investor, to withdraw the export contract for 17,000 RHD C-class models
a year would deal a severe blow to South Africa’s efforts to entice foreign
investment and stoke worries of an uncompetitive and fractious workforce.

The export contract required the R1.5bn ($182m) investment of which Kopke spoke
and provides employment for 4,000 workers who produce about 170 C-Class cars
a day, the newspaper said.

Kopke had no problems with South Africa’s macro-economic situation, the Financial
Times added.

“Economic policy here is very good,” the D-C SA chief told the newspaper.
But “the tragedy is that just when things are looking up, we shoot ourselves
in the foot”.















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