Piece-Loving Unions Harrass Hyundai

Cammy Corrigan
by Cammy Corrigan
piece loving unions harrass hyundai

If you were a company at time of recession, belt-tightening and countries on the verge of bankruptcy, you’d think that registering record profits and growing global market share at times like these would keep everyone at your company happy, right? Wrong. Members of Hyundai Motor’s union are angry. Livid. Up in arms. And as students of Asian cultures will confirm, Koreans can get, shall we say, a bit hot and bothered about causes close to their hearts.

Koreatimes reports that despite pleas from management for peaceful resolutions, their union has demanded that Hyundai stop expanding overseas and guarantee job security at home – or else.

“Job security for our members should be guaranteed by reaffirming the role of domestic factories as the basis for production,” the union declared in its 11-point list of demands. Seems building those factories abroad isn’t going down too well in South Korea. Other points which the union stipulated were: protection of the union, its activities left to its own discretion and a better division of profits. Oh, and higher wages, better benefits, and the list of usual suspects.

Hyundai Motors CEO, Chung Mong-Koo, is at odds with the unions, because he firmly believes that Hyundai has to go global in order to expand. Wages rising in South Korea, and the newfound strength of the Won reaffirm his plan. No doubt the unions will have something to say on that.

The Koreatimes points out (rather needlessly to Chung Mong-Koo who is already beefing up his protective detail) that Hyundai’s union “is notorious for frequent strikes. Its union is a leading member of the Korea Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), the more militant of the nation’s two umbrella groups.” And when they say militant, they mean militant.

The article did mention that during the global financial crisis last year, the unions did show restraint in striking (or as the Koreatimes puts it “collective action”) but that good will will only last so long.

PS: Just to demonstrate that we have a handle on things: “Hyundai Motor will recall 47,000 of its new Sonata sedans to fix faulty door latches, seeking to avoid the damaging criticism Japanese rival Toyota Motor Corp faces for its handling of a series of safety problems,” says Reuters. Yawn. Must be recall fatigue.

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  • Uncle Mellow Uncle Mellow on Feb 24, 2010

    I have never bought a Hyundai , but if I ever do buy one , it will not be one built outside Korea.

  • Dynamic88 Dynamic88 on Feb 24, 2010

    You can't blame the Korean workers - how can they possibly compete with low wage countries like Alabama? +

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