South African union begins indefinite strike, auto trade fears impression

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CAPE TOWN, Oct 5 (Reuters) – South Africa’s largest metalworkers union on Tuesday launched an indefinite strike, looking for pay rises and threatening to dam provides of components to make new automobiles and equipment, trade and union officers mentioned.

With round 155,000 members organised within the sector, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) has referred to as for a complete shutdown of the engineering trade after wage talks with employer our bodies reached a impasse and arbitration failed.

“We are left with no choice but to strike and to withhold our labour indefinitely until the bosses give into our just demands,” NUMSA mentioned in a press release.

The union organised marches and rallies throughout the nation on Tuesday, with 1000’s attending a march in downtown Johannesburgwhere protesters carrying NUMSA’s trademark crimson colors held up placards together with “An injury to one is an injury to all”.

NUMSA had sought an 8% across-the-board wage rise within the first 12 months of a pay deal, and a rise equal to the speed of inflation plus 2% for the next two years. Annual inflation is at the moment round 5%. learn extra

Industry physique Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa had provided 4.4% for 2021, inflation plus 0.5% in 2022 and inflation plus 1% within the third 12 months.

South Africa’s economic system, together with its export-focused auto sector, was hit laborious by the COVID-19 pandemic, making employers reluctant to present in to union calls for for above-inflation wage hikes.

Car gross sales fell by roughly 30% final 12 months for each the home and export market, hitting main manufacturers resembling Ford (F.N), BMW (BMWG.DE) and Nissan (7201.T) which all have native crops.

“We urge parties to speedily resolve the impasse and prevent long-term damage and possible line stoppages to vehicles being assembled in SA and abroad,” Renai Moothilal, govt director on the National Association of Automotive Component and Allied Manufacturers, informed Reuters.

Mark Roberts, a lead convenor on the Retail Motor Industry Association, mentioned if NUMSA’s strike lasted greater than per week provides might be affected.

Separately, the nation’s largest commerce union federation referred to as on its members to keep away from work on Thursday.

COSATU, which is aligned with the governing African National Congress get together however is usually crucial of its insurance policies, accuses the federal government of financial mismanagement in the course of the coronavirus disaster.

It desires to strain policymakers to undertake a looser fiscal stance at subsequent month’s mid-term price range.

Reporting by Wendell Roelf; further reporting by Alexander Winning and Siphiwe Sibeko in Johannesburg; modifying by Kenneth Maxwell and Jason Neely

Members of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) hold placards as they gather ahead of an indefinite strike, threatening to choke supplies of parts to make new cars and accessories, in Johannesburg, South Africa, October 5, 2021. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko