Picture: REUTERS
Picture: REUTERS

PRODUCTION remained at a standstill at BMW’s plant in Rosslyn, Pretoria, on Thursday, and the global car maker said it expected to have lost production of 2,000 3-Series sedans by Friday morning.

BMW South Africa spokesman Guy Kilfoil confirmed that all 2,200 employees failed to show up for work in a dispute over shift allowances. The plant, which has a 24-hour manufacturing cycle, was losing production of 345 vehicles daily, he said.

Manufacturing plants in Germany would now make up for the lost production, he said, but once manufacturing resumed in South Africa, most production would focus on meeting local demand, possibly casting further doubt on South Africa’s image as an investment destination for vehicle makers seeking to export.

Despite BMW’s ability to shift production, there could be damage to the marque’s reputation as customers face delays in receiving their vehicles, he said.

Mr Kilfoil said BMW SA had also received a national strike notice from the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) on Wednesday.

Given the existing industrial action, this was not expected to have any further effect on BMW SA, though it remained to be seen whether the issue of shift allowances was covered in a national agreement, he said.

Numsa issued a 48-hour strike notice after wage talks deadlocked in July. More than 31,000 workers at BMW, Toyota, Nissan, Ford, GM, Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz and some truck manufacturers are expected to down tools on Monday.

The union has revised its wage demand from 20% across the board to 14%. Employers are offering 10% plus R1.07 per hour for the first year, and consumer price index inflation plus 0.25% and R1.07 per hour for each of the following two years.