SEOUL, June 27 Workers at General Motors Co's
factories in South Korea, a key manufacturing base for
the U.S. automaker, will stage a partial walkout on July 4
because of disputes over wages and production plans, a union
spokesman said on Thursday.
The partial walkout comes during annual wage talks that
began in April. GM Chief Executive Dan Akerson and other
executives have raised concerns about a further increase in
labour costs partly because of ongoing wage lawsuits filed by
GM's South Korean workers.
But GM's South Korean union has said its "cost per vehicle"
is half of that in Australia and lower than several other peers,
The union was also angered by GM's decision not to produce
the next-generation Cruze compact in South Korea, which sparked
fears about a potential restructuring of the
Last week, 79 percent of union members at GM Korea voted in
favour of strike action. Union leadership decided late on
Wednesday to launch a partial strike for six hours on July 4,
and to refuse overtime and weekend work for now, said Choi
Jong-hak, a union spokesman.
He said union leadership would decide whether to continue
the partial strike depending on progress in the wage talks.
"The management did not come up with any concrete proposal
during yesterday's talks. It will be difficult to reach a deal
and we are likely to continue the strike," he told Reuters.
In July to September last year, GM Korea suffered its
biggest-ever strike since it was created in 2002, resulting in
lost production of 40,000 vehicles.
GM's South Korean unit makes more than four out of 10
Chevrolet-branded vehicles sold globally and supplies almost all
Chevys sold in Europe. It also produces vehicle kits for
assembly in China and so many other emerging markets. The unit
exports Opel's Mokka SUV to Europe and Chevy Spark minicar to
U.S. and other markets.
Under the annual wage talks, GM Korea's union negotiators
have called for a bonus equivalent to three months' salary and a
one-time payment of 6 million Korean won ($5,300) as well as a
basic salary increase of 130,498 won.
The two sides have also locked horns over a new shift system
that will eliminate overnight work from the start of 2014, with
the union demanding that management make up for reduced wages
stemming from fewer work hours.
The union is also calling for the company to produce the
revamped Cruze as well as other next-generation models in South
Korea and to have the unit continue to play a key role in
engineering and designing GM's mini and small cars.
"Wage talks are still under way. We hope to expedite
negotiations to reach a deal and avoid production losses," GM
Korea spokesman Kim Byeong-soo said, adding that the annual wage
pact was traditionally reached by early August.
On May 28, Hyundai Motor Co, South Korea's
biggest automaker, and its labour union started their annual
wage talks under which the union is demanding a bonus equivalent
to eight months' salary and an extension of the retirement age
to 61, among others.