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South Africa auto union ends four-week strike

Staff writer |
South African trade union NUMSA said it had reached a deal to end a four-week strike in the auto components sector that has crippled production. Workers will return to factory floors on Monday.

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Union officials told a news conference that workers would receive a 10 percent pay increase in the first year of the accord and wage hikes of eight percent in the second and third years covered by the agreement.

"The strike was very hard for us," Irvin Jim, the general secretary of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA), told the news conference.

A four-week strike by more than 30,000 workers at major auto makers including BMW, Ford, Nissan, and General Motors ended last month and cost the industry $2 billion in lost output.

But as workers on the assembly lines came back to work, tens of thousands of those at suppliers walked out.

Some car makers have been considering how much to invest in South Africa, where wage hikes have not been met by higher productivity and labour relations are ranked as among the world's worst in the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Report

BMW said last week it was no longer considering expanding production in South Africa because of the labour unrest. NUMSA leadership dismissed the move as brinkmanship and said the German car maker must seek the union's approval before trying to increase the size of its operations.

"The blackmail by BMW is rejected with the contempt it deserves," Mr. Jim said.

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