When we heard from Reuters about GM’s possible plan to shift production from its South Korean former Daewoo plants to Europe, we didn’t think that would be highly appreciated in South Korea. After duly reporting that there could be a deal afoot to mollify the German and European steelworkers union with jobs taken away from South Korea, we opined: Let’s see what the militant South Korean unions have to say about that.”
We did not have to wait long. The unions in South Korea already threaten war, and when they say war, they mean war.
In an update to their detailed and well-researched article, the Reuters reporters write:
Moves to shift production could ignite protests from a militant labour union at GM Korea, which launched its first strike in three years last year. Choi Jong-hak, a spokesman for GM Korea’s labor union, warned the union would “wage a war” if GM shifts output to Europe.
He said GM had already been shifting some production from South Korea to emerging markets with cheaper labour, causing “serious job insecurity.”
The plan is spearheaded by GM vice chairman and chairman of Opel’s supervisory board Steve Girsky. Reuters says Girsky has “close ties to GM’s largest union.” That is putting it mildly. Girsky worked as an adviser to the UAW during the pre-bankruptcy times and was the UAW’s man on the GM board. He should know the unions better. He could ask his joint venture partners at China’s SAIC. When SAIC pulled out of Ssanyong, literally all hell broke loose.