Workers at GM’s South Korean plant will stage a partial walkout, ominously on Independence Day, July 4th, Reuters heard from a union spokesman. The walkout could turn into a full-fledged strike, union spokespeople said. Reports Reuters:
“Last week, 79 percent of union members at GM Korea voted in favor of strike action. Union leadership decided late on Wednesday to launch a partial strike for six hours on July 4, and to refuse overtime and weekend work for now, said Choi Jong-hak, a union spokesman. He said union leadership would decide whether to continue the partial strike depending on progress in the wage talks.”
This is yet another chapter in the suspense novel titled South Korean wage talks. Workers want more money, and they are upset that the next generation Cruze, and possibly the Mokka, will be produced elsewhere.
Four out of 10 Chevrolet-branded vehicles sold globally, and all Chevys sold in Europe come from South Korea. The Korean GM units is a key hub for CKD kits that are shipped to China and many emerging markets for local assembly. GM Korea makes Opel’s Mokka SUVlet, and the Chevy Spark.
The union says “cost per vehicle” is half of that in Australia and lower than in many other countries, Russia, included. Workers fear a slow shift of GM’s production base from South Korea to China. The next generation Cruze will be made in China, others could follow.
From July to September 2012, GM Korea suffered its biggest-ever strike since it was created in 2002, resulting in lost production of 40,000 vehicles. In China, automobile production is relatively safe from industrial action. What’s more, street protests in China are known to shift consumer sentiment away from certain other brands.