GM Korea reached a tentative wage agreement with its union, Reuters says. Workers receive a little more money, and a major concession that could have far-reaching consequences for GM’s recovery if it sets a precedence in the rest of GM’s world.
The union is expected to put the deal to a union vote on Thursday or Friday. Workers will receive 80,564 Korean won ($71.23) as an increase in base salary, a bonus of 5 million won ($4,423) and a one-off payment of 3 million won ($2,654). Most importantly, workers have received a concession on their most pressing demand: An end of the three-shift work week. Workers had voted for a strike if round-the-clock work continues.
Under the deal, a new shift scheme in will be tested in the first quarter of 2013. Closing weak factories and running the remaining strong ones flat out three shifts per day to maximize returns appears to be one of the cores of GM’s restructuring plan. Privately, executives at other carmakers warn against this strategy. “If you work round the clock, you end up with unhappy workers, sinking quality, and no time to make repairs,” an executive at a European carmaker said. “Then the unhappy want more money, and if you give them more, they will still be unhappy.”