Unionized workers at GM Korea have launched an all-out strike for the first time after the automaker was acquired by U.S-based auto giant General Motors Co. in 2002. They staged a full-scale strike in 1997 when the company was under now-defunct Daewoo Group.
The union is demanding a 5.65 percent increase in basic monthly salary, 250 percent of monthly salary, or 10.23 million won (US$8,569), in performance bonus and 6.50 million won (US$5,445) in encouragement bonus per worker, but the management has strongly refused to accept the union's requests, saying that the company’s accumulated deficits have surpassed 4 trillion won (US$3.35 billion) over the past five years.
The automaker's 10,000-member union started the walkout on Sept. 9, though the GM headquarters in the United States warned of output cuts, saying, “If there is a delay in production due to continuous strikes, we can’t help but allocate GM Korea's production volume to plants in other countries.”
Regarding the union’s demands, the management said, “The union and the management agreed to increase wages and offer performance-based bonuses only on conditions of profitability recovery last year when we had discussions over a wage and collective bargaining agreement. The company made a loss of 859.40 billion won (US$720.37 million) last year alone so it has nothing to give.” The accumulated net loss of GM Korea over the past five years came to 4.44 trillion won (US$3.73 billion), including 1.63 trillion won (US$1.36 billion) in 2017 and 859.40 billion won (US$720.37 million) in 2018.
The auto industry is concerned that the latest full-scale strike and the partial strike earlier will cause a delay in production of 10,000 units in total. The union’s requests for performance bonus and encouragement bonus are said to cost more than 100 billion won (US$83.82 million).