By on July 5, 2012

At home, GM is at peace with the unions, benefits of having the UAW as a major shareholder. Abroad, GM Europe has been in a low intensity conflict with the European unions that oppose cuts at Opel. Now, a labor conflict flares up in an unexpected part of the world: Korea.

Workers at GM’s South Korean factories will go on strike for three days next week, Reuters reports. Workers at Hyundai and Kia will vote next week on joining the action, until then, it is GM that is in the crosshairs. Says Reuters:

“GM Korea is one of the U.S. automaker’s key Asia production bases, producing a quarter of GM’s Chevrolet cars sold globally, and 98 percent of cars such as the Cruze and the Aveo subcompact sold in Europe.  China is also a major export market for GM Korea’s complete knock-down kits.”

GM’s South Korean labor relations have been frayed ever since there were discussions on moving some of the Korean production to Europe. Choi Jong-hak, a spokesman for GM Korea’s labor union, warned the union would “wage a war” if GM shifts output to Europe.

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11 Comments on “Strike At GM South Korea...”


  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    ” a spokesman for GM Korea’s labor union, warned the union would “wage a war” if GM shifts output to Europe.”

    The actual solution would be to talk to the European and North American unions in concert to assure that GM (or whomever) isn’t unopposed in an international race to the bottom.

    I really do despair that unions (or for that matter, regular people) haven’t been able to leverage globalism like corporations have. But then, I suppose if labour could move freely and bargain transnationally it’d be a real threat to people with money.

    • 0 avatar
      Signal11

      Protests are something of a national pastime in South Korea.

      Besides, it’s not a real Korean strike unless there’s water canons involved.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        True. Their student protests are something to behold as well.

        In a way, they could teach North Americans a thing or two. “Free speech zones” indeed…

      • 0 avatar
        28-cars-later

        Maybe they should ship some of the ringmasters up north to Comrade Kim, since in the glorious workers paradise everything would be so much better for them. Sure you have to stand up for yourself and your job, but the Koreans of all people should really be grateful they receive actual wages and have some freedom on a peninsula where half have been enslaved by a dynasty of lunatics.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    You don’t want to mess around with South Korean unionistas. The UAW/CAW are pussycats compared to them.

    “In a series of raids this week on the plant, about 40 miles south of Seoul, police commandos rappelled from helicopters as workers hurled firebombs. Hundreds were injured. By Wednesday, the police had overrun most of the facility and cornered 500 workers in a paint shop filled with flammable liquids.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/07/world/asia/07seoul.html?_r=1

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Beware those buying Korean-made GM vehicles, they could be booby-trapped.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    If the strike drags on a bit, it could disrupt ‘production’ of CKD car kits like the Cruze and Spark.

  • avatar
    bd2

    Don’t see how labor conflicts are ever unexpected in Korea.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      I agree. Who didn’t see this coming? GM wants to take some of their jobs and ship them to Europe? What would happen in the US and Canada if GM tried to ship some of those jobs to Europe?

      But never fear, the US taxpayers are here, and they will continue to bail out GM through this situation as well, even if it means importing Opel cars to the US just to keep Opel going.

  • avatar
    28-cars-later

    Korea, China, United States/Canada/Mexico, Germany and Russia. Too many brands manufactured in too many places. If you ask an Opel employee who they work for, do the say Opel AG or General Motors? How about a Daewoo employee? Holden employee? GM’s foreign brands seem to have entirely too much personal identity. I think the Daewoo workers don’t see it as their corporation transporting jobs to another plant, but as their evil parent owner taking their jobs and giving them to another (competing?) company. This sounds like the sort of infighting nonsense GM had in the 60s and 70s which eventually led to the demise of two well established popular marques, and the near death of a third (Buick), who is more or less in comatose with Opel derived life support. I’m not sure if GM’s North American operations ever had such brand consciousness (at least in the last thirty years) but the foreign marques seem too have it in spades. GM is like a never ending headache, they get N.A. somewhat straightened out and then Holden almost goes bust. Then they fix Holden and Opel turns into a nightmare. Now trying to temporarily fix Opel, Daewoo is pissed off. It never ends.

    Granted most are European, but why is it Volkswagen doesn’t have these sort of problems with its ten brands?


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