By on January 12, 2012

When we heard from Reuters about GM’s possible plan to shift production from its South Korean former Daewoo plants to Europe, we didn’t think that would be highly appreciated in South Korea.  After duly reporting that there could be a deal afoot to mollify the German and European steelworkers union with jobs taken away from South Korea, we opined: Let’s see what the militant South Korean unions have to say about that.”

We did not have to wait long. The unions in South Korea already threaten war, and when they say war, they mean war.

In an update to their detailed and well-researched article, the Reuters reporters write:

Moves to shift production could ignite protests from a militant labour union at GM Korea, which launched its first strike in three years last year.  Choi Jong-hak, a spokesman for GM Korea’s labor union, warned the union would “wage a war” if GM shifts output to Europe.

He said GM had already been shifting some production from South Korea to emerging markets with cheaper labour, causing “serious job insecurity.”

The plan is spearheaded by GM vice chairman and chairman of Opel’s supervisory board Steve Girsky. Reuters says Girsky has “close ties to GM’s largest union.” That is putting it mildly. Girsky  worked as an adviser to the UAW during the pre-bankruptcy times and was the UAW’s man on the GM board. He should know the unions better. He could ask his joint venture partners at China’s SAIC. When SAIC pulled out of Ssanyong, literally all hell broke loose.

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14 Comments on “GM’s Rescue Plan For Opel Could Trigger Korean War...”

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  • avatar

    “Moves to shift production could ignite protests from a militant labour union at GM Korea, which launched its first strike in three years last year.”

    While I support the right of people to withdraw their labor to protest working conditions, I can never see the point of withdrawing labor in order to show you’re a better group of workers than somewhere else.

  • avatar

    Daewoo doesn’t do as good a job as Opel. It has been a thorn in GM’s side for over a decade. GM should have pulled production from them after seeing how badly assembled the Daewoo made products were right from the get-go.

    There is not enough demand to keep that crappy company producing sub-par products. Daewoo isn’t losing because of GM, it is because they do a bad job compared to Opel assembled vehicles. They should consider themselves lucky to have been employed the past couple of decades.

    Daewoo did not do what Kia or Hyundai did. They had twenty years and GM billions to do so. They failed. This is what happens when you blow it for two decades. When Ford severed ties with Kia, Daewoo should have seen that the GM gravy train welfare benefits would also end.

  • avatar

    Girsky should have been cast out along with Red Ink Rick since he was a principle consultant to the failed Chairman. he is a bankster put in place to oversee the elimination of benefits and the destruction of wages. his serving as representative for the UAW is a direct conflict of interest that borders on criminal behavior. he is a cancer that must be removed.

    • 0 avatar

      Yep. But he is still there. Nobody is asking the tough questions. Nobody inside GM is questioning any of this. They just do what they have done for decades: nod their collective heads and collect their paychecks. The entire organization is rotten to the core.

    • 0 avatar

      What I find most offensive, frankly, is that GM is getting a pass.
      In a way, GM has been successful at framing the debate around the Volt and it’s “new” products, as derivative and stale as they are, and away the real story at GM: it is a cultural and financial time bomb.
      The real story lies in the business of GM. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING changed inside GM.
      The “old boy” network is stronger than ever. Proof: Girsky, for example, is still running around speaking as an official of the multi-national. Reuss still there. Barra still there. NO change in executive leadership at Powertrain. Most vehicle Chief’s are still there, only rotated around in order to “change”. Read that again: NO CHANGE. It is the same as it ever was……
      GM, in bankruptcy, did effectively NOTHING that secures the multi-national beyond a few years. Proof: massive and unsustainable “white collar” pension obligation of $30billion and growing depending on interest rates; GM “owes” the UAW VEBA roughly 30% of the equity of the entire company! Remember the VEBA needs liquidity and there is no choice but to sell shares of GM in large blocks; GM continues with excess capacity issues that will ONLY be solved by closing plants; GM did NOTHING to solve the structural problems that are Opel AG.

      Now, I understand that a great number of people rely on GM. Whether they are engineers or mechanics or dealer owners or salesmen like yourself. But these people are the ones who should be doubly irate. I decided to get out, I now watch from the outside with humor what is going on. But, the people and families who still rely on GM to sell cars, profitably, and the customers who buy those cars deserve better than what they are getting at the moment. I just hope they wake up before it’s too late.
      They are all being lied to…

      Keep making me laugh GM.

  • avatar

    I drive a ‘crappy’ GM-Dat product: 4 years, 35k miles and I had my first warranty claim, a transmission park lock sensor and some clip for the shifter, about 2 months ago. Original tires, brakes. Even the transmission has not been touched, and if you knew me – I do not baby my vehicles. There are a ton of them on the roads in Canada. They sold decently and have held up no worse than equivalent products.
    The ill-fated Epica was the only dog to come out of the original batch of vehicles that GM inherited back in ’02. Retraining GM customers that the Aveo and others had timing belts that needed to be looked into was a chore. I am sure there are more than a few GM bashers out there who need to look at themselves for the failings of their GM-Dat vehicle.
    Korea has always had a sketchy labor history. GM must have known that when they purchased Daewoo back in 2002. That investment worked out a lot better than their equivalent investment in Fiat.
    However, despite the fact we are told there are no import restrictions in China, Korea or Japan, GM was clever enough to know that the only way they would ever be allowed to sell vehicles in Korea was to buy a Korean company. Hence, GM now is the biggest ‘foreign’ seller in Korea, while being virtually non-existent in Japan.

  • avatar

    It’s true that Daewoo didn’t do as well as Kia or Hyundai, but Daewoo has not been a failure for GM. In some ways, it has saved GM’s bacon. While GM was making money on trucks and SUVs it was shortchanging its car lines, especially its small car lines. Meanwhile, GM paid billions to shore up Saab and billions more for the privilege of not buying Fiat. About this time, Daewoo became insolvent, and GM picked them up for a bargain price. As it turns out, Daewoo turned out less than great cars, but they had some engineering talent, and now Daewoo engineering is at the core of GM’s small car and world car line-up. The Chevy Cruze is chock full of Daewoo dna.

  • avatar

    After having a small war at the plant do these workers expect to just go back to making cars and be happy about it?

  • avatar

    Well, North Korea already (and has for decades) hates the US. Now Mother General wants to piss off the South Koreans by axing jobs?

    I’m saying this tongue-and-cheek, but they may reunify because of this.

    GM’s timing could’ve been better. With a new regime in NK, and their justified desire for reunification ala Germany, this might be their poster child. A pissed off unified Korea=NOT GOOD.


  • avatar

    THIS is what excess capacity in the industry, and specifically at GM, looks like. This is not going end nicely for GM-DAT, Opel or GM LLC for that matter.
    Remember that business about liquidation a few years back? It didn’t happen then but it will happen eventually. The market will speak.

  • avatar

    Hyundai-Kia’s capacity problem solved. Makes sense to me.

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