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Hyundai Motor union walks off for 9th time

Nov 29,2017
The labor union of Hyundai Motor staged a partial strike at the company’s plant in Ulsan, the ninth time workers walked off the line this year. The line under suspension produces Konas, one of the company’s best-selling vehicles.

The union of Hyundai, which is part of the hard-line umbrella union Korean Metal Workers’ Union, announced Monday evening that it would suspend two assembly lines in factory No.1.

According to a statement by the union on Monday, Hyundai’s management started the production of the Kona on line No. 12 on Friday without the agreement of the workers.

The Kona was produced on line No. 11 and the company wanted to expand its production before it starts exporting the small sports utility vehicle to the United States in December. Exports to Europe started in August.

The Kona was launched last June and quickly became the best-selling small-sized crossover in the domestic market. The company aims to sell more than 40,000 Konas overseas by the end of this year.

Management and the union are required to agree on details such as working hours before beginning production of a new vehicle or expanding production.

Hyundai and its union have been in talks about the expansion since October but could not agree on the working hours per worker if additional vehicles were made.

Union members reportedly tried stopping conveyor belts on lines Friday with chains, leading to physical altercations.

Two people were injured and sent to a nearby hospital.

While the chains were removed Monday, the lines had yet to go into operation as of Tuesday’s press time. That halted production of Konas and Accents, Hyundai’s small sedan.

According to a spokesperson, the company is preparing to file civil and criminal suits against the union, calling the strike illegal as it is unrelated to the ongoing wage negotiation.

“Management and the workers have to come to mutual consent before expanding the production of a vehicle and the union exploited and abused this fact, making unreasonable demands,” said a spokesperson for the carmaker.

Yoon Gap-han, president and CEO of the auto company, issued a statement regarding the partial walkout and said management will follow a “no-work, no-wage policy” as the strike is illegal.

The union, however, refuted the claim that the strike was illegal as it was authorized by the union leader, who was given the “right to strike” authority by the central committee of the union.


BY CHOI HYUNG-JO [choi.hyungjo@joongang.co.kr]