Last week, GM CEO Dan Akerson said that GM might move production away from South Korea if tensions with North Korea escalate. Today, Korea labor unions said Akerson is using the crisis as a pretext to gain the upper hand in upcoming labor talks.
Akerson said that GM is “making contingency plans for the safety of our employees to the extent that we can,” and while it is difficult to quickly shift production from South Korea, GM might just do that for the long-term.
Killing jobs in South Korea would do very little for employee safety. Union spokesman Choi Jong-hak thinks it’s a flimsy argument:
“It is a message by Akerson to the union saying ‘don’t make excessive demands’… They want to make the union feel jittery,” Choi Jong-hak told Reuters. “It is a threat, as the labor union here is seen as a stumbling block for its restructuring of its global production system.”
GM Korea told its union in November that it would not produce the next-generation Cruze compact in South Korea. Unions have threatened “a war” if GM shifts output to Europe.
GM is South Korea’s second-biggest automaker after Hyundai Motor Group.