General Motors’ South Korean labor union has elected a new chief in Jeong Jong-hwan — a 52-year-old who is said to be of the “center-left” disposition. Mr. Jeong won with 59 percent of the vote with the promise to bring more production to South Korea, and his two-year term is set to begin in October.
Mr. Jeong vowed to ask GM to move production of 100,000 vehicles per year from China to South Korea, demand higher wages and bonuses, extend the retirement age to 63 (from the current 60), and — as a top priority — “to secure production in South Korea”, according to the group’s spokesperson.
Under the leadership of current labor chief Min Ki, GM Korea has organized partial strikes in July over wage disputes. It was on his watch that The General saw the worst walkouts in a decade in 2012, resulting in 40,000 vehicles lost in production.
Mr. Jeong started his career at GM in 1987 after graduating high school. He has been in charge of the union’s largest faction, previously serving as a union negotiator during annual wage discussions.
The news comes months after rumors and ensuing concerns of GM considering the reduction of its manufacturing operations in the country after growing labor costs and a militant union presence have caused The General to reconsider allocating a fifth of its global production to South Korea.