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Renault gets support in wage battle with union

Mar 01,2019
As partial strikes continue at Renault Samsung Motors, suppliers, a local business group and a civic group implored workers to be reasonable in negotiations with management.

The push from these stakeholders comes just a week after the parent company sent a representative to the affiliate to call for the unions to accept concessions to assure the future of the operations.

The union refused to attend the 17th round of wage negotiations and conducted four partial walkouts on Wednesday and Thursday. A March 8 deadline has been set for the conclusion of negotiations.

A group representing the automaker’s suppliers and the Busan Chamber of Commerce and Industry in a statement released Thursday asked the company and its union to resolve the wage dispute. They said that the strikes had endangered the health of the local economy of Busan, where the automaker’s factory is located.

Relations between labor and management have deteriorated in recent months, with both sides digging in.

The union has called for the company to follow the minimum wage law, claiming that the required rate is not being paid, and improve working conditions, arguing that mismanagement led to difficulties and mass layoffs in the past.

The company has emphasized that cost increases could harm its competitiveness. Last week, Jose-Vicente De Los Mozos, executive vice president of manufacturing and supply chain for the Renault Group, visited the plant and said costs are too high.

The disagreement at the automaker’s Busan plant has had a negative impact on suppliers, according to the Thursday statement. They said that they suffered around 110 billion won ($98.3 million) in losses since the walkouts began last year.

“Our company absorbs losses of 50 million won every time there is a strike,” said one CEO for a supplier in the statement. “If a conclusion is not reached by March 8, and it becomes unclear whether new car orders will be made, there will be a significant impact on the company’s management.”

Park In-ho, president of a Busan civic group, pointed out that suppliers located in Busan and South Gyeongsang account for 55 percent of automaker subcontractor revenue nationwide and that they employ 12,000.

“If conflict between management and labor continues, it can only have a negative impact on the regional economy,” said Park.

As of Thursday, the union had gone on strike for a total of 160 hours since October last year.


BY CHAE YUN-HWAN [chae.yunhwan@joongang.co.kr]