Now that General Motors is withdrawing the Chevrolet brand from the European market, it plans to reduce salaried employee rolls at GM Korea, which has been assembling most of the Chevy branded vehicles sold in Europe. Reuters reports that Sergio Rocha, GM Korea CEO, said that GM’s Korean subsidiary will offer a “voluntary retirement” plan to its 6,000 salaried workers, including research and design staff. Some of the product development responsibilities have already been shifted out of Korea, like the design of the current Chevy Cruze. The previous generation of the Cruze was designed in Korea. So far the reductions are aimed at salaried workers as Rocha said the company has no plans to eliminate production jobs.
“This is part of our ongoing efforts to enhance operating efficiency,” GM Korea spokesman Park Hae-ho, said.
Earlier this month GM had announced that it was shuttering the Chevrolet brand in Europe by the end of 2015, focusing on restoring Opel and Vauxhall to profitability. Closing Chevy on the continent is expected to result in a 20% drop in production by GM Korea.
“Workloads are too light and there is a lot of anxiety about job restructuring,” a GM Korea R&D center employee told the Reuters news agency. The unidentified employee said that they are working on the next generation Spark subcompact, but after that job is completed next spring, there are no more projects in the pipeline.
“For me, this is the biggest crisis facing GM Korea since 2000” the employee said. That was the year that Daewoo Motor went into receivership. GM bought the defunct company in 2002 and renamed it GM Korea.