Workers and employers in motor retail urged to work together to minimise job losses in sector

The Motor Industry Staff Association (MISA) has called on the employers in the retail motor industry and South African automotive industry as a whole to work together with labour in order to curb COVID-19 induced job losses.

‘Wilful short-term pain’

“While there has been much debate about the economic justification of an extended national lockdown, some researchers have noted that it could be a case of ‘wilful short-term pain’ for a longer-term gain,” said Hermann Köstens, MISA’s CEO for Strategy & Development. “Nobody has definitive answers yet, but what we do know now is that role-players in the industry need to work together to preserve as many jobs as possible.” According to Köstens, the financial effects on employers in the automotive retail sector has been widespread.

“Unfortunately, workers in the retail motor industry are bearing the brunt of decisions by government and employers over which they have no control,” he noted. However, Köstens believes there is a glimmer of hope on the retail motor industry horizon. Vehicle sales in China and specifically Wuhan (the original center of the virus) have shown a rapid recovery, with pent-up demand bolstering dealership activity and sales.

A new era on the horizon for the motor retail sector

MISA called on employers to not make hasty decisions about staff cuts and to rather find innovative and alternative solutions – not only for the sake of thousands of vulnerable employees but also to the benefit of employers and the sustainability of the industry. “The low-interest rates, fast-growing middle-class market, and consumers who have shown to be highly adaptable in a digital environment may well lead in a new era for our industry, where sales could recover fairly quickly.” The union appealed to employers to act humanely in this unprecedented time. “Let us work together as unions and employers in the industry to the benefit of the workers,” said Köstens.

“It truly is business ‘unusual’, where we need to work together, not only as an industry but as a country for collective survival,” he said. As a trade union, MISA has already stepped in by offering employers assistance in claiming UIF and TERS benefits on behalf of employees. MISA represents more than 50 000 employees in the retail motor sector in South Africa.


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