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Unionized GM Korea Employees Authorize Strike

July 10, 2017
Despite GM Korea suffering heavy financial losses and shrinking volumes, workers plan to go on strike for a monthly wage increase and bonus pay.

GM Korea hourly workers vote to go on strike four days after the automaker’s CEO steps down.

The vote ended Friday, July 7, with 69.4% of GM Korea’s 15,000 members of the Korean Metal Workers Union voting to authorize a walkout.

The union had filed for arbitration by the National Labor Relations Commission on July 5, stating wage negotiations with management had broken down after several rounds of negotiations that began May 23.

Under Korean labor law the union must wait 10 days from the arbitration application date before it can strike, so the workers must stay on the job at least through Thursday, July 13. However, the union reports it has called for a strike strategy meeting on Tuesday, July 11. It is expected to announce a strike-date target and whether it will be a full strike or rolling partial strikes that limit the hours of production on various specified days.

Last year the partial-strike strategy was held on 24 days and cost GM Korea some 3 trillion won ($2.6 billion) in production losses.

With GM Korea suffering heavy financial losses and production and sales volumes shrinking, workers are planning to go on strike to back their demands for a monthly wage increase of 154,883 won ($133) and a bonus of five months’ pay.

Further, perhaps inspired by the easy success of South Korea’s new pro-left president Moon Jae In in winning the June election, the union is demanding expensive and complex non-wage reforms, too.

Among other things the union wants a formal role in planning and a guaranteed production quota set for each of GM Korea’s three vehicle assembly plants. It also wants the current work schedules reduced to two straight 8-hour shifts, with no work beyond midnight.

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