Rising Up: Worker’s Strike in South Africa Forces Toyota to Suspend Production of the Toyota Fortuner and Others

Thanks to the brave workers at a Toyota SA (South African) supplier  taking a stand against the Toyota Motor Corporation, their hand was forced into suspending production. As this shutdown continues on, Toyota estimates that it will lose about 700 vehicles for everyday that the plant and its workers are idled. Of those, approximately half of those are exported to neighbouring markets, to which they would lose out on that potential revenue as well, not to mention not being able to honour those contacts.

To catch you up to speed, the strike is a result of negotiations breaking down over workers receiving higher wages. More specifically, they’re looking to receive the same R1,500 retention bonus that was paid out to their highly-skilled artisans earlier this year. Toyota Boshoku (not owned and/or affiliated with Toyota Motor Company) produces mainly automotive seats and interior trim for such vehicles as the Toyota Fortuner, Corolla, and South Africa’s best-selling vehicle, the Toyota Hilux. Obviously, they can not assemble vehicles without the seats, as it would make for a difficult sale, not to mention a rather uncomfortable ride back home from the dealership. Dealers are already feeling the effects of the work stoppage, and may not have enough inventory on their lots to keep up with demand. No word if they’ll look into buying back used vehicles, or importing grey-market ones.

This is a severe blow to the Toyota manufacturing plant, as it was recovering from a strike at its own facility from October 1-4, resulting in a loss of 2,428 vehicles (including the Toyota Fortuner). It was playing catchup until yesterday, adding overtime and extra shifts to make up for the devastating loss, and to meet contracts with dealers and exports. Reports are saying that negotiations between the labour union (The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa) and management are going well, and are peaceful in nature. As of 3:30 yesterday afternoon, they adjourned for the day with no considerable progress worth mentioning.

Stay tuned for this latest development!

(Editor’s note: since this article was written, they’ve come to an agreement, thus ending the strike)

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