The recent ongoing strike in the largest African economy, the latest in ongoing labor turmoil has prompted reactions from the automotive industry as well, with the walk out affecting production.
Ford, the No.2 US automaker, has now moved to downplay concerns over the future of the company’s investments in the country – which has been plagued by numerous strikes in recent years. The automaker’s regional boss said the company intends to keep its business in the country, having a long-term commitment to South Africa.
The comments follow reports from an engineering federation – the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of South Africa (SEIFSA) – which said the US carmaker was now mulling a business retreat from the country.
SEIFSA claimed that Ford’s local chief, Jeff Nemeth, talked to the federation’s boss and told him that “he was under pressure from his head office to pull the company’s operation out of South Africa.”
“We have a long-term commitment to South Africa… and we’re making news next week about future products,” replied Jim Benintende, Ford’s Middle East and Africa president. “All we have to say [about the strike] is that we hope all sides come to amicable agreements as soon as possible,” he added.
After a month long strike last year by 30,000 NUMSA members that worked for the automakers, 2014 comes with another NUMSA strike, now in its second week – which has already prompted General Motors to halt production because of parts shortages.