The labor union and management of GM Korea are in sharp confrontation even before starting a collective bargaining negotiation for this year. Six ice-breaking meetings have been aborted, leading the labor union to submit a petition for dispute settlement to the Central Labor Relations Commission, a move indicating that the labor union is preparing to go on strike.
An ice-breaking meeting between the labor and management of GM Korea for wage negotiations for this year were scheduled to start in the afternoon of June 11 but were canceled, industry sources said on June 11. This is the sixth aborted meeting since May 30. The main reason is the management’s rejection of the venue of the negotiations proposed by the union for safety concerns. The labor union insists that the meeting be held at the LR Meeting Room of the Welfare Hall at the Bupyeong factory as it has been so far, while the management proposes the Seoul Room of the company’s main office building as the venue.
Violence that the union had shown in the past made the management sensitive to the venue of the meeting. In May last year, about 40 non-regular workers at GM Korea occupied the office of the company president and broke some appliances in the room. In October, the labor union did the same in opposition to the spin-off of a research and development (R&D) unit from GM Korea. CEO Kaher Kazem, who is not a Korean, felt threatened and moved with a bodyguard in and around the factory.
The management’s no-shows at the negotiation prompted the labor union to take steps to go on strike such as the formation of a labor dispute committee in a cadre meeting on June 12. Externally, it plans to apply for a dispute settlement at the Central Labor Relations Commission. If and when the commission proceeds with a labor dispute mediation process and makes a decision to suspend it due to a lack of progress, the labor union will hold a vote among its members and can initiate a labor strike anytime when the majority says yes.
However, industry sources say that it is quite unusual for a labor union to apply for a labor dispute at a time when a negotiation has not even started due to a difference of opinions over a negotiation place.
In particular, the management says the labor union’s claim that the management is intentionally delaying the negotiation is not correct.
In fact, the management waited for labor union leaders at the place that it proposed when labor union leaders were waiting for their counterpart in the LR Meeting Room.