TOKYO (AFP) – Japan’s top three automakers said Wednesday that a US port strike has hit their North American production with some resorting to airlifts to keep plants running at full steam.
Dock workers on the US West Coast are reportedly on a go-slow and have not been supplying full crews for months in a bid to gain bargaining leverage in labour negotiations – a situation that led to a crippling french fry shortage at Japanese fast-food outlets last year.
Now, Japan’s major automakers say that the prolonged labour dispute is hitting their supply chain as they race to ship parts to North American factories.
“We have tried to procure parts by alternate means such as by air,” Honda spokeswoman Yuka Abe told AFP.
“But the continuing strike action is slowing down cargo shipments and the company has not been able to supply enough parts in North America.”
Honda said it was trimming output at four plants in the United States and Canada by a total of 20,000 units this week – mainly of the popular Accord and Civic – and added that a decision would soon be made on further production cuts.
Last year, Japan’s number-three automaker produced about 1.6 million vehicles in North America.
Rival Toyota, the world’s biggest automaker, said it was also resorting to airlifts and changing shifts to keep its factories humming, but added that the labour disputes were not having a “significant impact” on operations so far.