The National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) is demanding a one-year 20% wage increase across the board in the automotive industry after its three-year wage agreement ended on June 30.

The other demands tabled to Automotive Manufacturing Employers Organisation (AMEO) deputy chair Nabiel Conybeare include morning, afternoon and night-shift allowances of 10%, 20% and 30%, respectively.

Numsa is also demanding an annual bonus increase from 8.33% to 12%, six months paid maternity leave and 10 days’ paid paternity leave, as well as a transport allowance of R5,000 per month.

Numsa, SA’s biggest union with more than 450,000 members, wants clerks, welders, spray painters and metal-finish workers to be paid a 20% allowance, among other wide-ranging demands.

Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim and national treasurer Mphumzi Maqungo have warned that the wage talks will be difficult and could hurt the economy if they become protracted.

Numsa has not ruled out going on strike in support of its demands but is not overzealous about downing tools.

The talks between Numsa and AMEO are expected to get under way this week, with the employers preferring to comment on the demands only once the talks start in earnest.

Business Day has seen a copy of the demands signed by Conybeare and Numsa auto and tyre co-ordinator Vusumzi Mkhungo.

Numsa’s demands are likely to be opposed by AMEO, the motor industry’s collective bargaining body that will negotiate with the union.

Meanwhile the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of SA (Naamsa), which represents all 42 vehicle brands in the country, has said it expects a flat year for vehicle sales in 2019.

Briefing the media recently, Naamsa executive director and CEO Mike Mabasa said the 2019 outlook for the industry, which contributed more than 7% to GDP in 2018, looks gloomy. Naamsa announced in May that aggregate domestic sales fell an annualised 5.7% to 40,506 vehicles after growing only 0.7% in April. Export sales were down 8.8%, or 2,866 vehicles, from the previous year's 32,716 vehicles.

Mabasa said Naamsa was now looking at the possibilities in African countries, including Ethiopia, for export opportunities..

Drawn-out wage talks between the industry and the union could undermine President Cyril Ramaphosa's effort to reignite the economy, which shrank 3.2% in the first quarter of 2019.

On Sunday, AMEO spokesperson Andile Dlamini said: “The formal negotiations with our labour partners Numsa will start in July.  Until the parties have met and shared their demands at the negotiation table, AMEO will not be in a position to comment.”