SOUTH KOREA: Labour tensions grow at GM plant
Labour protests have loomed large at GM Korea’s production factory in Gunsan, North Jeolla Province, after the carmaker unveiled its plan not to produce the next generation Chevrolet Cruze in the country.
While the 2013 model of the Cruze compact sedan is being produced only in Gunsan, of GM Korea’s four plants nationwide, General Motors has excluded the Korean unit from the list of the next generation model.
After GM Korea made public its parent group’s business policy last week, local community leaders including Gunsan mayor Moon Dong-shin and university presidents denounced the automaker.
“GM Korea CEO Sergio Rocha denied the rumors that GM would scale down vehicle production in Korea when he visited here in May,” Moon said in a statement cited by the Korea Herald.
Moon described the situation under which GM omitted the Gunsan plant from the list as a “practice going against mutual trust”, saying the Korean unit’s CEO had promised cooperative relations with Gunsan City.
He warned that possible decrease of Cruze production would “deal a blow to GM Korea overall as well as Gunsan”.
The Gunsan factory union is reportedly poised to protest through actions such as labour strikes.
The regional union is also coordinating with workers at GM Korea’s headquarters in Bupyeong, Incheon.
In a similar vein, unionised leaders are highlighting allegations that the Bupyeong factory could also reduce production of the Chevrolet Trax diesel.
While GM Korea is also operating plants in Boryeong, South Chungcheong Province, and Changwon, South Gyeongsang Province, employees in the two other factories are also expressing concerns over a possible downsizing.
However, GM Korea management stressed its US headquarters’ investment in the local unit remains stable.
“Though the new Cruze model will not be produced in Gunsan, there is still global demand for the current Cruze model. So, there will be no reduction in vehicle production,” the company said in a statement.
It also dismissed rumors the Trax diesel would not be produced in Bupyeong.
“(GM) has yet to decide whether to introduce the model to Korea.”