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Hyundai Workers Plan Strike to Protest New Venture

Automaker teams with city for non-union auto plant.

by Michael Strong on Dec.05, 2018

Hyundai workers in South Korea are planning to strike in protest of a new joint venture planned between the automaker and Gwangju to build a non-union plant.

Union workers in Hyundai Motor’s plants in South Korea plant to walk off the assembly line in protest about a potential joint venture between the automaker and the city of Gwangju to build small vehicles using non-union labor.

The plan, which is still in negotiations, calls for the two sides to jointly own a plant employing 1,000 workers to produce mini-SUVs. The employees would earn a little more than $31,000 annually, which is less than half of what unionized workers earn at existing auto plants.

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South Korean workers often strike to during wage negotiations, walked this time for four hours to protest the salaries and use of non-union workers. (more…)

Strike Could Spell Problems for Hyundai

First full strike in 12 years could hit American operations.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Sep.26, 2016

Inside a Korean Hyundai plant.

Hyundai Motor Co. is facing a crippling, all-out strike for the first time in a dozen years, and the walkout at the maker’s Korean plants could soon impact its U.S. operations.

Korean labor unions have a history of militant action but had settled into an uneasy peace with Hyundai and rival automakers in recent years, at worst staging limited actions at select plants in order to win demands.  The latest action follows a vote by workers last month that rejected Hyundai’s latest wage package.

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While the world’s fifth-largest automaker – which also operates the Kia brand – has expanded its global production base in recent years, Hyundai still produces about 40% of its new cars and light trucks in South Korea, and many of those vehicles are earmarked for the U.S., as well as Europe, the Middle East and other parts of Asia.


New Dockworkers Deal Makes Life Easier for Asian Automakers

Tentative pact reached over the weekend.

by Joseph Szczesny on Feb.23, 2015

A strike by West Coast dockworkers is now over, but it could take as long as eight weeks to clear the backlog.

Asian automakers with U.S. operations can breathe easier now as a long-strike by West Coast dockworkers is now over, although it will be weeks or months before things are back to normal.

Operations at ports on the West Coast began to pick up over the weekend as the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and Pacific Maritime Association announced they had reached tentative agreement on a new labor agreement.

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But observers estimated it could take as long as eight weeks to clear the back log of cargo that had built up at key ports since the middle of January when the port operators began canceling afternoon and evening shifts in response to what they described as a deliberate slowdown. (more…)

Labor Problems Mount for Kia and Hyundai

Workers ramp up protest strikes.

by Joseph Szczesny on Aug.26, 2013

Hyundai workers strike this month. Photo credit: NewsChannel Asia.

Labor trouble continues to hobble production at both Kia and Hyundai, according to new reports from South Korea.

Both Kia and its South Korean partner, Hyundai, are seeing their market share reduced this year because of vehicle shortages that have been attributed, at least in part, to sporadic labor disputes at South Korean factories. Executives at both Kia and Hyundai have acknowledged vehicle shortages have reduced inventories and made it more difficult to keep up with the growing global sales.

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Saturday production was halted in March at two of Kia’s three assembly plants  in South Korea and at all plants of its larger affiliate Hyundai , amid union protests over a new shift structure.  The weekend shifts resumed in May at Hyundai and in June at Kia, after some management concessions.


Hyundai Workers End Costly Strike

Maker offers better wages, end overnight shifts.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Sep.04, 2012

Supplies of Korean-made Hyundai products, such as this Elantra GT, had begun to dry up as a result of the strike.

Hyundai and its workers have ended one of the most bitter labor disputes to hit the Korean automotive industry in years – one that threatened to stall the maker’s rapid global growth.

Hyundai has agreed to raise wages for the 41,000 workers at its home market plants – while also accepting an end to overnight shifts at its Korean car plants.  A stalemate over those demands had led to a serious of brief work stoppages over the past month that, in turn, disrupted what is already a strained production system.

In total, Hyundai reportedly lost 92 hours of production since the union began its series of strikes on July 13.  That resulted in the loss of about 82,000 vehicles, according to the Korean carmaker – worth $1.5 billion.

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“Hyundai Motor management is pleased that the labor union members approved the agreements made last week, putting an end to the strikes,” Hyundai management said in a statement. “Our priority now is to normalize production and fulfill customers’ expectations.”


Hyundai Hit by Another Strike

Likely to worsen maker’s inventory shortage.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Aug.08, 2012

With models like the Elantra already in short supply, the strikes could cause serious problems for Hyundai.

Hyundai’s Korean assembly lines have once again been hit by a strike, the maker’s increasingly militant union failing to reach terms on a new contract.

The walkout won’t shut Hyundai down entirely, employees planning to halt work for several hours at a time between now and August 17th – while also refusing all overtime — in a bid to pressure the Korean carmaker to increase wages and reduce its traditionally long workday.

Even with its factories working on an abbreviated schedule the situation poses a serious dilemma for Hyundai, now the world’s fifth-largest automotive manufacturer.  With demand surging in markets around the world it has been struggling to meet demand and expects to lose market share because of inventory shortages in the U.S. this year.

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Strikes last month were the first in three years and marked a reversal for labor/management relations that had steadily improved for more than a decade.  Korea has traditionally been home to some of the world’s most militant labor organizations and in decades past walkouts were more the norm than the exception around the time of contract bargaining.


Update: Hyundai Hoping to Avert Strike That Could Scuttle its Record Sales Goal

Workers demanding shorter hours, share of profits.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Jul.13, 2012

Supplies of Korean-made Hyundai products, such as this Elantra GT, could dry up if workers strike.

This story has been updated to reflect new developments in Korea and comments by Hyundai officials in the U.S.

Hyundai Motor America is likely to lose market share in 2012 even as it takes aim at another all-time annual sales record. The problem, cautions CEO John Krafcik, is that the maker is reaching the limits of its global capacity, compounded by constraints at its plant in Alabama.

Potentially making the situation worse is the threat of a strike by 45,000 workers at Hyundai’s Korean operations — though on Friday those employees agreed to resume negotiations with the maker over a variety of demands.

“It would be difficult” for Hyundai especially in the U.S., if workers strike, Krafcik told on Friday.  So, “We certainly hope it gets resolved.”

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So do investors who had been driving down Hyundai’s share price in recent days fearing the maker might be hit with its first walkout since 2008.  Earlier this week, 70% of the members of the maker’s traditionally militant union voted in favor of staging a strike if demands aren’t met.  Key on that list are reduced working hours and increased wages.

Workers at Kia, the smaller Korean carmaker controlled by Hyundai also approved a strike if demands aren’t met.