Just over one year after GM Korea was saved from bankruptcy, it appears the local auto union is prepared to go on strike.
Business Korea reported Wednesday the labor union has already submitted a petition for dispute settlement to the Central Labor Relations Commission. The filing indicates the union is preparing to strike, though, it’s an odd move considering the collective bargaining process hasn’t begun yet.
Yet, things are already icy. Six ice-breaking meetings have been canceled between GM Korea and the union. The meetings are meant to ease the two sides into negotiations set to take place later this year. Of contention is the meeting spot. While the union wants to meet within a local manufacturing plant, GM Korea has insisted on a different location. Safety is the entity’s concern after temp workers occupied the company president’s office and broke appliances.
Temp workers again carried out a protest and broke items when news of a possible GM Korea R&D spinoff surfaced. CEO Kaher Kazem, who is not Korean, has since felt threatened and enlists bodyguards when visiting a local plant.
A GM Korea strike could derail production plans for two important new vehicles coming to the U.S. The 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer and Buick Encore GX will both be built in South Korea. Both vehicles were promised to GM Korea as part of a concessions deal last year in exchange for a $7 billion bailout of the unit. GM dangled both models as carrots in the negotiations, which led the union to freeze wages, cut benefits, and slash worker bonuses.
The South Korean business unit made headlines last year when GM said it would close the Gunsan assembly plant in the country, which put 2,000 workers out of a job. GM also said it would help those employees find new work as part of the bailout deal last year.
Source: Business Korea