By on January 17, 2014


Last month Hyundai agreed to a union demand to end night shifts in the company’s Korean factories but it added graveyard shifts to their American plants. In Europe and North America third shifts are returning as companies try to wring out the maximum number of vehicles from their existing capacity. In August, Jaguar Land Rover added a third shift at its Liverpool plant to keep up with demand for the Evoque. In North America, the big American car companies shed lots of excess plants as they went through their financial crisis and to keep up with the rebound in sales as the economy starts to grow they have added night shifts to many of their assembly operations.

Ron Harbour, a consultant for the Oliver Wyman firm,  says that historically only 10-15% of North American car-assembly plants have run night shifts. That figure fell to 9% in 2009 but has risen to 40%. European plants have historically had more third shifts, about 50%, but that figure dropped to 29% in 2006. However it has again started to rise, currently at 35%.

Eurofound, an EU agency that studies work and living standards, has published studies that show that night shifts have risen steadily in Germany, and begun to rise again in the UK but there are fewer night shifts in France, Spain and Italy.

The auto industry is ideal for working around the clock because of the capital investment in expensive machinery operated by relatively few employees. In wealthy, highly unionized countries, workers like night shifts. They provide jobs and usually a shift premium. In Germany, night workers’ shift premiums are tax-free.

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8 Comments on “The Graveyard Shift is Resurrected...”

  • avatar

    Great movie, now I’m going to have to look for it on Netflix. Probably won’t find it since Netflix doesn’t have much of anything worth watching.

  • avatar

    I used to work swing shift , I loved the experience and extra $ , missing my Son when he was young not so much so I dropped that as soon as I could afford to .


  • avatar

    I’ve got a copy of this movie on VHS as well as DVD. I vow to own a Stutz Blackhawk one of these years.

  • avatar

    I worked for a large ship repair operation in the federal government, and found out over the years pretty much all the advantages and disadvantages of shift work. I know guys who have worked the graveyard shift for years, but I found out that in my own case there was no way I was as effective on graveyard as on day shift, particularly when there was a rush job going on and we worked weekends or twelve-hour shifts. Otoh, sometime we could get more done on backshifts because of fewer supervisors in the way….

    Employment policies in this country that make it too expensive to hire people also make it more likely that existing employees will be required to work overtime and back shifts.

  • avatar

    The poster is roughly 10 times cooler than the story.

  • avatar
    jim brewer

    A sociologist somewhere wrote a paper pointing out that the graveyard shift was the functional equivalent of the frontier in modern society. It is the way that immigrants and young people gain a toehold in the economy.

    I remember going on early morning hunting trips with Dad. He pointed out to me that everyone you saw on the street at 5:00 a.m. on a Saturday had a purposefulness to them that you didn’t see at other times.

  • avatar

    Jim Said ” I remember going on early morning hunting trips with Dad. He pointed out to me that everyone you saw on the street at 5:00 a.m. on a Saturday had a purposefulness to them that you didn’t see at other times.”

    THIS ! .

    I stopped working on the Farm when I moved Way Out West but I still like to arise @ 0-Dark:30 7 days the week and get a jump on before the rest of the world wakes up .


  • avatar

    The night shift may be good for automakers, but it is bad for employee health. Win for the company, not for
    the employee who screws up his sleep cycle.

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