The Korea Herald reports that tensions are rising as workers position themselves for annual labour negotiations. Trade unions at the nation’s major carmakers plan to seek more say in management during collective bargaining this spring, amid some concerns the demand may sour labour relations in the local auto industry.

The union officials of KIA Motors Corp. are scheduled to meet management today at the flagship Sohari plant in Gyeonggi Province, the first collective bargaining among the local carmakers this year. The union will demand a seat on the board and seek equal voting with management on the company’s disciplinary committee.

Workers at GM Daewoo Auto & Technology Co. will request an earlier takeover of the carmaker’s largest plant in Bupyeong, the Korea Herald said.

“Some may say that the union is claiming a part of managerial rights. But the issue is closely related with the livelihood of our fellow workers. We will push for it,” said Kim Kyung-ho, policy bureau chief of the GM Daewoo union, speaking to the Herald.

Management was cool to the unions’ demands, the newspaper reported.
“We believe that the managerial rights are sorely reserved for the management. Labour unions do not have any ground to claim such rights. It cannot be a subject of negotiation,” an official of Korea Employers Federation said.

Executives at the automakers agreed. Kia will not make a concession to the union’s demands for a board seat, according to officials. GM Daewoo also said the takeover decision will be made based on business principles, not the union’s demand.