Strikes & Wage Negotiations Continue in South Africa
South Africa’s tyre industry strike continued into its third day on Tuesday July 24 while wage negotiations reportedly continued to advance at a snail’s pace. While Tyre Employers’ Association spokesperson Attie Higgs reported that the parties involved had made progress on several non-wage demands, negotiations on wage related issues had not budged, with the “same position” being maintained on both sides.
While unions are demanding a 10 per cent wage rise, tyremakers Dunlop, Continental and Goodyear are prepared to offer an increase of 7.5 per cent, while Bridgestone’s carrot is a 7 per cent wage rise. National Union of Metalworkers South Africa spokesperson Mziwakhe Hlangani said “we want to force employers to improve their offer because the industry has been reporting good profits over the past three years. We are hopeful of a significant wage increase.” Such claims of industry growth are refuted by Higgs, who countered with the argument that during the past three to four years the local industry’s market share had been diminished by the presence of imported tyres.
Higgs expressed confidence that the employers and unions would eventually settle on a figure that was “somewhere in the middle.” In the meantime local production has been severely restricted, with Continental producing only 30 per cent of normal output and Goodyear production also cut back. No tyres have been produced at Bridgestone owing to the lock out notice issued to all employees on July 20. According to Higgs, in the short term the importation of substitute tyres would limit the effect of the strike, however if it continues for a prolonged period it would have a severe impact on the local tyre manufacturing industry.