SEOUL May 7 General Motors Co will not
pull out of South Korea but will discuss labour woes with South
Korea's President, its CEO was quoted as saying by its Korean
union, a move that could complicate already troubled relations
with its local workforce.
Chief Executive Dan Akerson said last month GM might look at
shifting output from this key production base in the long-term
due to tensions between South and North Korea, angering the
union. This latest development suggests annual wage talks will
not be easy when they start later this month.
Akerson plans to bring up concerns about labour in talks
with South Korean's President Park Geun-hye during her U.S. trip
this week. He made his remarks at a meeting with GM Korea's
union leader last week in Detroit, union spokesman Choi Jong-hak
"We are upset by his remarks. We did not go all the way to
the U.S. to hear that," Choi said.
A Shanghai-based spokeswoman for GM's international
operations declined to comment, saying the automaker considers
meetings between GM senior leaders and union officials to be
South Korea is one of GM's biggest overseas manufacturing
bases, producing more than four out of 10 Chevrolet vehicles
sold globally, but the industry is prone to disagreements with
what it says are uncooperative unions.
Speculation about a possible shift of some production to
bolster ailing European manufacturing centres has continued
despite GM saying in February that it would invest $7.3 billion
in its South Korean unit over the next five years.
A wage lawsuit filed by GM Korea's labour union members
could lead to an increase in labour costs, which have already
grown too fast over the past decade, executives have said.
Hyundai Motor Co, South Korea's biggest
automaker has its own labour woes, with workers having refused
to work weekends since March, hurting sales and earnings in the
Choi said Akerson's previous comments on a potential shift
of production was an empty threat to tame the union ahead of
talks on a possible restructuring of production systems.
"GM cannot withdraw from South Korea. We have technology to
make good cars and our wages are only about one third of those
in the United States and Europe," he said.