By on June 27, 2013

Korea Strike - Picture courtesy cnn.com

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.

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20 Comments on “GM Daewoo Workers Plan 4th Of July Walkout...”


  • avatar

    General Motors Korea can’t expect to keep making Money for the Parent in Detroit and paying the Workers “Peanuts”

    • 0 avatar
      FirebombDetroit

      The amount of “Money” Detroit earns off their labors doesn’t matter one bit. As long as these workers are making a comparable amount of peanuts to their compatriots working in the Hyundai plant down the road, what right do they have to earn more?

      • 0 avatar

        Whenever I see a comment like this I’m reminded of Oliver Twist who astounded everyone because he dared to want more.

        If the workers in GM Korea can get more what does it matter how much they make at Hyundai? They certainly have the right to do so.

        • 0 avatar
          FirebombDetroit

          Dickens hasn’t been a relevant argument for workers rights for almost 100 years. Sure they can try to get more pay, but they don’t (or shouldn’t) have the right to throw a violent hissy fit if management doesn’t agree.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        +1 I’d love to see the uninhabited parts of Detroit leveled.

        • 0 avatar
          Lorenzo

          Detroit has been demolishing abandoned houses for years. There are no whole sections of the city abandoned, but there are a lot of vacant lots scattered around.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Still doesn’t have the appeal of an aerial strike.

          • 0 avatar
            dolorean

            I’ve been in the military for over 20 yrs now and it never fails to marvel me when Uncle Sugar spends $$$$$$$ on creating “cities” on base out of container boxes and connexes, calling it ‘urban training’. My idea has always been to buy 20 square blocks of the worst part of Detroit, wall it off, two square blocks for initial training et al and you’d have one helluva urban training site. Why have very expensive and generally quite shady contractors spend billions of tax money to create fake cities replete with sewer systems, craptacular roads, and rusted rail lines when its already there in Detroit.

  • avatar

    It’s hard to tell, at least at this distance, what’s real and what’s just posturing in this drama. The union is a combative one and their leadership is prone to fiery talk, but they’re not particularly underpaid now; what threats do they really plan to follow through on? Meanwhile, GM bosses keep hinting (but not quite coming out and saying) that they’re thinking of closing the Korean factories and moving that production elsewhere. But GM’s Korea-based design and engineering centers are pretty important and have been pretty successful (they did the Cruze, the Sonic, and the Spark, among other things). So what’s really likely here? Hard to say. It’s a suspense novel in progress, as Bertel said.

  • avatar
    Summicron

    Those are the neatest, cleanest demonstrators I’ve ever seen.

    Bet you could smell fabric softener on their uniforms.

    • 0 avatar
      Signal11

      Protests against for or against some cause or another is a way of life here in South Korea.

      Most labor protests here in Korea are very well organized and scale according to how disruptive protest leaders want them to be. Every other weekend, there’s some sort of labor protest going on somewhere in some city. A lot of the time, you find out about them when you run into unusually heavy traffic on a major thoroughfare and realize the cause is a well organized sit down in the middle of traffic with police calmly directing traffic around them. Even the sex workers have organized public protests against high end department stores near the red light districts refusing to sell them the latest Christian LeBoutoun bags and shoes.

      OTOH, when a protest gets hot and heavy here, things can get well out of hand.

      All of the GM plants here are along coastal cities and with the exception of the one Incheon. The on in Gunsan, which is close to where I currently am, is pretty far (for Korea 2.5 hours by bus) so what they’ll do is hire a bunch of buses to get a couple thousand of these guys up to central Seoul. Then they’ll have a sit in protest, get their concessions because Seoulites are tired of having their lives inconvenienced and things will roll on.

      • 0 avatar
        Summicron

        No rapes, defecation in doorways, fires or major property damage?
        No 350 lb. slovenly millionaires with megaphones?

        America still has something to teach them.

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        But why did they pick the 4th of July? Is it like the WWII Japanese yelling “To hell with Babe Ruth”, they think it’s a personal insult to GM leaders, or do the Koreans really dislike Americans/America and reflexively include slaps at GM’s home country?

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    GM would be wise in the future not to base entire brands on the development/manufacturing efforts of ONE foreign division, else you lend the foreign divisions generous leverage (as well as being in a poor position to cope with supply disruptions or disaster recovery from said divisions).

    If there was an earthquake in either Korea or Germany right now, Chevrolet or Buick would be quite SOL.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    “We are very angry! We will have a walkout! Not gonna tell you when, but it’ll be on July 4th, between 8:30 and 9:10a.m.. That will show you!”

  • avatar
    SoCalMikester

    Arent the USDM Cruze and Spark built here? I thought that was the case. If they have forced overtime and weekends, maybe they should just hire more?

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Hey you can’t say DAEWOO any longer, it is forbidden by GM people, it is GM KOREA now repeat after me G M K O R E A. Daewoo is a forbidden name that cannot be used anymore, god forbid someone should think for a second that those GM KOREA cars are made in Daewoo plants.


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