Nomahlubi Sonjica HERALD REPORTER
IN A further blow to the regional economy, Volkswagen SA announced last night that it would halt production at its Uitenhage plant for three weeks and shed up to 400 jobs.
VWSA spokesman Bill Stephens said the company planned to close all production areas in the last week of February and the weeks before and after the Easter weekend.
The company also said it would release up to 400 of its employees in a voluntary separation package process, a decision that has outraged the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa).
This comes after 575 workers were laid off in December and the company extended its holiday shutdown period.
Stephens said the continuing worldwide financial crisis was dramatically affecting the demand for vehicles, with practically all global markets showing a substantial reduction.
“A significant part of VWSA‘ s production is export-related therefore the global situation will have a profound effect on the company‘s production volumes (this year).
“In addition, the current forecasted domestic total vehicle market (this year) shows a further decline in excess of 10 per cent versus (last year).
“Employees have been invited to apply for the voluntary separation package.”
Numsa regional secretary Zanoxolo Wayile said yesterday the union wanted a moratorium on all retrenchments in the region.
“There is a problem in the manner which these companies, including VW, are dealing with the current economic situation,” he said.
“They are putting their profits first before the plight of ordinary citizens. They do not consider the fact that the Eastern Cape has the highest rate of unemployment.”
VWSA‘s decision was “an extreme level of provocation and a demonstration that (it) has taken a decision to get rid of employees”.
Numsa has called a workers‘ meeting at the Uitenhage town hall on Sunday “to present our proposal and the dirty tricks VW is pulling”. The union was also willing to engage the community, church leaders and the ANC to condemn VW‘s “parasitic stance”.
“We are going to channel our anger against those companies to ensure we save our members from this crisis,” added Wayile.
Source The Herald