* Auto industry contributes 6 pct of GDP
* Union NUMSA wants double-digit wage hikes
* Impact of parts shortage has been "massive" -BMW
By Wendell Roelf
CAPE TOWN, Sept 18 South Africa's auto makers
are struggling to build cars because a strike in components
manufacturing has choked off the supply of parts, industry
officials said on Wednesday, adding to the woes of a sector
badly hit by earlier labour unrest.
More than 30,000 workers at major auto makers including Ford
, Nissan and General Motors returned to
work this month after a strike for higher wages that cost the
industry $2 billion in lost output revenue over four weeks.
But workers in the automotive parts and retail industry
represented by the main manufacturing union, NUMSA, are on
strike, shutting down the supply of key parts and components
used to assemble autos. The industry accounts for 6 percent of
GDP in Africa's largest economy and 12 percent of its exports.
"The impact has been huge, massive. We are only producing 85
cars instead of the normal 345 cars a day," said Guy Kilfoil, a
spokesman for German automaker BMW.
The BMW plant would not be able to make up the lost
prodution, he said. It lost 7,900 vehicles from the autoworkers'
strike and expects to lose another 2,300 by the end of this week
because of the shortage of parts.
NUMSA has been pushing for double-digit wage hikes and
better shift allowances, demands the Retail Motor Industry
Organisation has said it would struggle to meet.
The situation was similar at a plant producing Daimler AG's
"We haven't been producing our passenger vehicle line since
last week. Our commercial line for trucks and buses has been
going, but could stop producing next week if the strike
continues," spokeswoman Lynette Skriker said.
She said most of the plant's 2,500 workers have been at home
on short time due to the parts shortage.
Nevertheless, apart from the auto sector, strikes in South
Africa this year have been relatively short-lived and less
violent than some analysts had feared. South Africa's economy is
recovering from a wave of violent mines strikes last year.
Workers in the gold industry went back to work this month
after a three-day stoppage, although wage settlements are likely
to cost bullion producers an extra $150 million over the next 12
It is unclear whether the hardline AMCU mining union, which
is still pressing for wage hikes, intends to strike.
Last year, AMCU helped organise a wave of wildcat strikes
that brought the mining industry to a standstill and dented
investor confidence. More than 50 people were killed during the
mines unrest, including 34 strikers shot by police.