As production workers at Hyundai Motor's assembly plant in Alabama did raise a question about Hyundai Motor's wage system in different countries after a series of reports that Korean workers receive better salaries, the wage data showed that workers in Alabama plant were paid as much as their counterparts in Korea on average last year.
According to Hyundai Motor and foreign media reports on November 8, production workers at Hyundai’s Alabama plant received US$90,400 on average, or 102.24 million won, last year if applying an annual average exchange rate of 1,131 won per US$1.
This is the first time that the wages of workers at the plant in U.S. were disclosed. Hyundai Motor has claimed that their employees at overseas assembly plants have been paid less than production workers in Korea, but the company has never disclosed specific figures. This is because the wage level is closely related to the total production cost it could lead to conflict between overseas and domestic workers.
The figure is around 6 million won (US$5,277) more than the all-in average for assembly workers at the plants in Korea who received 96 million won (US$84,433) on average last year.
However, Hyundai Motor explained that the amount of salary received by Korean workers includes overtime and weekend work charges but excludes national pension and health insurance, while health insurance and other benefits were included in U.S. workers’ wage data.
A Hyundai Motor official said, “The direct comparison in their wage levels is irrelevant since the Alabama figure includes all of the extra pay such as health insurance.”
As of last year, Hyundai Motor paid more labor costs than Toyota with 8.38 million yen (85.85 million won) and Volkswagen with 64,783 euro (84.32 million won). The company’s average wage increase rate over the last five years stands at 5.1 percent, higher than Volkswagen with 3.3 percent, Toyota with 2.5 percent and GM with 0.6 percent. In addition, industry sources have pointed out that Korean workers’ performance based on the number of cars manufactured per hour was lower than U.S. workers. Korean workers took 26.8 hours to manufacture a car, while their counterparts in the U.S. took 14.7 hours, according to data as of 2014.