A labor issue surfaced at GM Korea, which has barely started to normalize its operation after a long crisis. Recently, the Changwon District Office of the Ministry of Employment and Labor slapped a fine of 7.74 billion won on the automaker for failing to implement its order to directly hire 774 workers of the company's subcontractors at its plant in Changwon.
GM Korea is resisting. It is willing to fight a legal battle with the ministry as the problem is caused by the ministry’s inconsistent policy.
GM Korea can submit its opinions on the fine by July 17. If GM Korea pays the fine by the date, it will be given a 20% discount.
However, after this deadline, the Ministry of Employment and Labor imposes the formal fine on GM Korea and gives 60 days of appeal period. If GM Korea files an objection, a legal process will start.
GM Korea reportedly has decided not to submit its opinions on the notification of the fine. Instead, the automaker will formally set forth a counterargument.
GM Korea points out the inconsistency in the ministry’s decision. GM Korea says that its subcontracting guidelines are the same as the past ones that were regarded as lawful by the court. But the ministry’s interpretations have changed. In December 2013, the ministry conducted a special supervision of subcontracting practices at GM Korea’s Changwon factory and called them legitimate. Since then, the Changwon factory has operated its subcontracting system in the same way.
However, after the inauguration of the Moon Jae-in administration, the Ministry of Employment and Labor's judgment changed. Some analysts say that the ministry changed the judgment based on a recent court ruling that recognized an irregular worker as a regular worker in a civil lawsuit. In fact, in this corrective order, the Ministry of Employment of Labor cited a ruling by Inchon District Court in February to confirm the status of subcontract workers at the Bupyeong and Gunsan plants of GM Korea.
The Ministry of Employment and Labor has not come up with any clear explanation about a difference between GM Korea’s subcontracting practices in 2013 and at present. "In 2013, we supervised the Changwon plant based on an illegal employment judgment by the Supreme Court. We did not find any problems at that time," said an official of the Ministry of Employment and Labor. “There is no difference in subcontract operation. But the court made a ruling on the illegal dispatch of workers so we made the decision based on the ruling."
If GM Korea follows the corrective order from the Ministry of Employment and Labor, the automaker will have a big burden -- having to directly hire more than 900 subcontractors at the Bupyeong factory. The temporary workers union of GM Korea has been illegally occupying the president's office, since July 9, demanding direct employment from the company.