VEHICLE manufacturers in the Eastern Cape yesterday started making up for the R20-billion losses incurred in the three-week Numsa strike. However, just a few days of uninterrupted production is predicted before the manufacturers run out of components due to the Numsa fuel and retail motor industry strike, which started yesterday.
National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa director Nico Vermeulen said despite the vehicle manufacturers' strike ending yesterday, it was still a "tragic, worrying situation" since it may be a question of days before production again grinds to a halt due to a lack of components.
"The original equipment manufacturers need a steady supply of components and possibly only have three to four days' stock available, with the latest strike affecting the components industry. They will want to make up for the lost production of 50 000 vehicles, which equals a total loss of R20-billion for the entire manufacturing value chain over the past few weeks," Vermeulen said.
General Motors Africa communications manager Denise van Huyssteen said normal operations resumed yesterday at the factory in Port Elizabeth and that it should continue for the rest of the week, but that short time would be implemented as a consequence of the lack of component supplies.
"We note with concern that the new industry agreement has not yet been signed by Numsa. This must be done as quickly as possible in order to restore stability to the industry. Furthermore, we are concerned by the impact of the Motor Industry Bargaining Council strike, which among other consequences, will cause disruption at many of our suppliers," she said.
Volkswagen Group of South Africa communications manager Matt Gennrich also confirmed that normal production resumed at the Uitenhage factory yesterday.
"We will assess to see if we can catch up any lost production during the course of the year, though in some instances the lost production is lost [forever]. We will only be able to comment on the impact of the fuel and retail motor industry strike ... after a few days."
Meanwhile, Numsa has vowed to intensify the indefinite strike by petrol-pump attendants and car repair workers this week‚ amid mass marches and reports of intimidation on the first day of the strike.
Numsa is seeking double-digit increases and allowances for shift workers.
Several petrol stations and car dealers contacted yesterday in Port Elizabeth reported no disruption at their businesses.
While it was also business as usual in East London yesterday, police in Mthatha battled to control strikers who demonstrated at most of the city's garages, intimidating non-striking workers, blocking entrances and chasing away motorists.
Garages were forced to share fuel among themselves due to a shortage of supply because suppliers, fearing for the safety of their drivers and tankers, held back on deliveries. – Additional reporting by Mkhululi Ndamase, Johann Huebsch, Ryal Newfeldt and Karl Gernetzky