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GM Korea workers prepare to strike amid net losses

All News 12:56 July 06, 2017

SEOUL, July 6 (Yonhap) -- Unionized workers at GM Korea Co., the South Korean unit of General Motors Co., said they will vote on whether to go on strike to press contract demands, corporate sources said Thursday as the company struggles with three straight years of losses.

The carmaker's 15,000-strong union arranged a walkout if ongoing negotiations with management break down.

"GM Korea workers will cast a vote by 2 p.m. Friday, and the results will be available at around 3:30 p.m.," the carmaker's union spokesman Dang Sung-geun told Yonhap News Agency by phone.

The labor union is demanding the company raise workers' monthly basic wages by 50,000 won (US$43) and pay 9 million won per worker in bonuses. The company considers such demands excessive.

GM Korea called what the union wants "demanding" as the Detroit-based parent company is in the process of carrying out worldwide restructuring, and the Korean unit has consistently posted poor performances in recent years.

It posted net losses in the past three years -- 350 billion won in 2014, 986.8 billion won in 2015 and 631.4 billion won in 2016, due mainly to slowing global demand.

Other demands include the establishment of the so-called 8+8 shift system in which night-duty workers finish their day at 12:40 a.m., not 1:40 a.m. under the existing 8+9 system, the spokesman said.

"Last year, the company agreed to start the 8+8 system from June 1 this year, but we have had a meeting only once with the management to discuss follow-up steps to adopt the 8+8 system," Dang said.

The union wants to discuss the issue as well during this year's wage negotiations in order to introduce the system as agreed upon, he said.

GM Korea's all-new Malibu sedan (Yonhap)

GM Korea, which is 76.9 percent owned by GM, has three plants -- one each in Bupyeong, Gunsan and Changwon -- whose combined capacity reaches 750,000 vehicles.

For the whole of 2016, it sold 597,000 vehicles -- 180,000 domestically and 417,000 overseas -- down 4 percent from 622,000 a year earlier. Sales at the Korean unit accounted for 6 percent of GM's global sales of 9.96 million units last year, the company said.

In the January-June period this year, GM Korea's total sales fell 9.3 percent to 278,998 units from 307,512 in the year-ago period, it said.


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