BMW defends investment decision

BMW says it did the right thing by raising the red flag about SA as an investment destination.

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) during strike in northern Johannesburg on 09 September 2013. Picture: Mbali Sibanyoni/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - BMW on Monday said it believed it did the right thing by raising the red flag about South Africa as an investment destination.

But the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) has slammed the company for "blackmailing" South Africans.

The union's month-long strike saw car companies losing millions per day in production delays.

On Sunday, Numsa General Secretary Irvin Jim said BMW was extorting South Africans by saying the union's strike had led it to decide not to consider building a new model here in the future.

Numsa Deputy General Secretary Karl Cloete says they're sticking to their guns on how they view BMW.

He says the company can't dictate conditions to South Africa.

Cloete said the treat was insulting the country's people.

"We cannot be held to ransom by any investor from anywhere else in the world, especially in our context of huge unemployment, poverty and inequality."

He claims BMW is only interested in profits.

But BMW's Guy Kilfoil says they've done the right thing.

"We've had a long-term commitment to this country and with a commitment comes a responsibility. That responsibility is to raise the red flag when the time comes and I think that's what we've done."

He stresses this decision won't affect BMW's current investments.

The company also says it believes South Africans should be discussing how to create jobs rather than taking part in its current spat with Numsa.

Kilfoil says, "I think the more pertinent response would be, in a country where unemployment is around 25 percent, what are we doing to ensure that decisions like the one we've taken are not happening in the future?"