THE national strike in the motor sector has impacted on export vehicle sales, which declined by 22.9% last month. Vehicle sales figures for August were released by the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of SA (Naamsa) yesterday and paint a bleak picture of how industrial action by the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) over a wage dispute, which entered its third week yesterday, affected vehicle exports.
Naamsa said the main impact of the strike action to date had been on the industry's export performance, "and particularly the export operations of BMW and Ford Motor Company which had been negatively affected due to other industrial action which preceded the current industry strike".
A total of 19284 vehicles were exported last month, compared to the 25024 vehicles exported in August last year.
"One of the negative consequences of the current strike action is that it undermines South Africa's status as a reliable supplier to international export markets and could well negatively affect future export contracts being awarded to SA's automotive manufacturers," Naamsa said.
Ford SA, which has increased its workforce by 49 people in the past year, on Friday received the Eastern Cape's Exporter Club award for Best Exporter as an Original Equipment Manufacturer. The plant increased its gross profit by 112% and net profit by 167% for the past year.
Ford SA exported 3492 vehicles in July and only 1903 last month.
Similarly Volkswagen Group of SA (VWSA), which is based in Uitenhage, exported 4771 vehicles in July and only 1902 last month. BMW South Africa was hardest hit, with a decline from 6167 in July to 1647 vehicle export sales last month.
GMSA had total sales of 6029 units for the month and a market share of 10.7%. Its SA exports were not affected, it said.
It is predicted the full negative impact of the industrial action will only be reflected in September's figures in terms of domestic vehicle sales. Naamsa director Nico Vermeulen said the automotive industry had an inventory in the pipeline of between four to six weeks. "Therefore the major impact on production will only be felt in September, both in the domestic sales market as well as further industry exports," he said.
Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim said the strike could not be blamed solely for the decline in vehicle exports. "The strike continues. We made an offer with improvements to the employer on Thursday and to date have heard nothing from them."
Numsa will today be leading a march of 11000 workers in the automotive industry to hand over a memorandum of demands to the Automobile Manufacturers Employers' Organisation, which has offered a 10% wage increase, while Numsa's original demand was for 14%.