Toyota says it hopes to start full production tomorrow (10 September) in  South Africa after staff partially returned to work today following a lengthy strike, although a further walk-out involving component workers, among other automotive sectors, could hamper the industry yet further.

The damaging three-week industrial action has cost the South Africa automotive sector US$58m a day as unions demanded a 14% pay rise coupled with benefits such as housing and transport allowances.

However, it now appears a settlement featuring an 11.5% wage hike and mobility assistance, has seen most of the total 31,000 workers return to work.

“Staff have returned – not in full numbers – this morning,” a Toyota spokesman told just-auto from South Africa. “We spent most of the day clarifying misunderstandings they might have had.

“We hope to start full production tomorrow – if the [component] strike continues for a long period of time it will definitely affect us.”

The new walkout comes a blow to the industry that has just seen protracted negotiations between the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) and the Automotive Manufacturers Employers Organisation (AMEO), finally conclude with an agreement to restart production.

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Many companies in South Africa operate on a just-in-time basis and although some have stockpiled components, these are clearly of a finite nature.

The South African component manufacturers association (NAACAM), was not immediately available for comment.