South African car strike threatens to spread to 335,000 workers image

After deadlocks in wage talks between employers and the country’s biggest labor unions spread from autoworkers to gas stations and car dealerships, South Africa may face strikes involving as many as 335,000 workers.

About 72,000 motor-industry workers will walk out on Sept. 2 after a breakdown in wage talks between the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa, the Fuel Retailers Association and Retail Motor Industry Organization, the union said yesterday. They will join employees in the auto-manufacturing, construction and aviation industries that are already on strike, while gold mines face the threat of labor action.

Numsa “has taken a conscious decision to exercise our hard fought democratic and constitutional right to embark on an indefinite strike action,” spokesman Castro Ngobese said in an e-mailed statement. “The strike action has not been on our agenda, but it has been imposed on us” after the motor industry didn’t meet union demands.

The automotive-manufacturing industry, accounting for about 7 percent of GDP, has been at a standstill since Aug. 19, when about 30,000 workers downed tools. Car manufacturers including Toyota, BMW and Volkswagen collectively tabled a new offer on Aug. 22, representing a 10% increase over three years. Unfortunately, according to Numsa Treasurer Mphumzi Maqungo, the workers are still on strike, as they have not agreed to the new offer.

Via Bloomberg