Auto firms hold job crisis talks

2009-02-26 00:00

Cape Town — The global economic downturn could lead to a crisis in South Africa’s automotive industry and could destroy up to 34 000 jobs, key stakeholders in the industry told the government yesterday.

Trade and Industry Minister Mandisi Mpahlwa met leaders of the automotive and component parts sector this week, and it was decided that the government and the industry will set up a joint task team to work out an appropriate response to the potential jobs crisis.

The meeting was convened at the request of the two industry bodies representing the sector, the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa and the National Association of Automotive Component and Allied Manufacturers.

Trade and Industry spokesman Vukani Mde said the industry groups briefed Mpahlwa about the effects that the global downturn has had on their operations and put forward a set of proposals to respond to the crisis.

“They were keen not only to stem any further loss of jobs, but to safeguard and ensure their continued investment in the sector,’’ Mde said.

He said the response will be undertaken in line with the principles and timelines recently agreed between the goverment and its social partners in the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac).

“The Nedlac process put in place an inclusive, multi-stakeholder and fast-paced process to decide on the country’s response to the downturn,” sad Mde.

“Nedlac also decided to put together a ‘distressed sectors task team’ to focus on the worst-affected areas such as the automobile and components manufacturers.”

Mde said the Trade and Industry Department has started a process of consultation with the industry, labour, and other concerned government departments.

“The process will be as inclusive as possible, while at the same time remaining mindful of the urgency that the current situation demands,” he said.

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