GM Korea faces rough sailing

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GM Korea faces rough sailing

Workers plan strike over setup of R&D unit

By Nam Hyun-woo

GM Korea's bid to normalize operations is facing rough waters, with its union workers planning to go on strike against the management's decision to set up a new corporate body for research and development.

According to GM Korea's labor union Wednesday, it will hold a two-day vote among its members on Oct. 15 and 16 over going on strike to protest the management's plan for the new body.

Despite the management's explanation that the new entity aims to develop Korea as a regional R&D base, the union has been claiming the plan is "a preliminary attempt to sell off the Korean unit by splitting the firm into manufacturing and research divisions and withdraw from the country."

The union said it has "no option but to launch a labor dispute" because it asked "five times" for the management to discuss the plan, but the management didn't reply. The union has been calling for the management to sign an agreement with the workers over the sustainable future of GM Korea.

On Oct. 4, GM Korea held a board meeting and agreed to put the spinoff plan to a vote in an Oct. 19 shareholder meeting. However, GM Korea's second-largest shareholder, the state-run Korea Development Bank (KDB), has also applied an injunction to a local court prohibiting GM Korea's new body because the plan seemed to be containing risks.

As players square off, voices are growing that the carmaker should address internal conflicts promptly to rule out suspicions it is planning to withdraw from the country after taking aid from KDB.

According to Rep. Jung You-sub of the Liberty Korea Party (LKP), GM Korea did not comply with an MOU with the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, stating it will consult with the ministry for setting up the new corporate body.

According to the MOU, which GM Korea signed in May in return for receiving public aid from KDB, the carmaker is required to set up a consultation group with the ministry on "making efforts to improve its R&D capabilities." However, the group was not established at all and the company is unilaterally carrying out the plan without talking over it with the ministry, the lawmaker said.

In a National Assembly audit on Wednesday, lawmakers requested GM Korea CEO Kaher Kazem appear for a hearing, but the CEO did not show up.

GM Korea has proclaimed its normalization months after its February announcement on the closure of its plant in Gunsan, North Jeolla Province, because of financial problem, asking for government aid to address that.

As KDB, GM headquarters, GM Korea and its labor union agreed to a plan in May in which the headquarters offers $6.4 billion and KDB pours in $750 million, the carmaker seemed to be recovering from the feud, introducing new cars here. However, the plan over splitting the body is again dragging GM Korea down from putting its operation back on track.


Workers plan strike over setup of R&D unit

By Nam Hyun-woo

GM Korea's bid to normalize operations is facing rough waters, with its union workers planning to go on strike against the management's decision to set up a new corporate body for research and development.

According to GM Korea's labor union Wednesday, it will hold a two-day vote among its members on Oct. 15 and 16 over going on strike to protest the management's plan for the new body.

Despite the management's explanation that the new entity aims to develop Korea as a regional R&D base, the union has been claiming the plan is "a preliminary attempt to sell off the Korean unit by splitting the firm into manufacturing and research divisions and withdraw from the country."

The union said it has "no option but to launch a labor dispute" because it asked "five times" for the management to discuss the plan, but the management didn't reply. The union has been calling for the management to sign an agreement with the workers over the sustainable future of GM Korea.

On Oct. 4, GM Korea held a board meeting and agreed to put the spinoff plan to a vote in an Oct. 19 shareholder meeting. However, GM Korea's second-largest shareholder, the state-run Korea Development Bank (KDB), has also applied an injunction to a local court prohibiting GM Korea's new body because the plan seemed to be containing risks.

As players square off, voices are growing that the carmaker should address internal conflicts promptly to rule out suspicions it is planning to withdraw from the country after taking aid from KDB.

According to Rep. Jung You-sub of the Liberty Korea Party (LKP), GM Korea did not comply with an MOU with the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, stating it will consult with the ministry for setting up the new corporate body.

According to the MOU, which GM Korea signed in May in return for receiving public aid from KDB, the carmaker is required to set up a consultation group with the ministry on "making efforts to improve its R&D capabilities." However, the group was not established at all and the company is unilaterally carrying out the plan without talking over it with the ministry, the lawmaker said.

In a National Assembly audit on Wednesday, lawmakers requested GM Korea CEO Kaher Kazem appear for a hearing, but the CEO did not show up.

GM Korea has proclaimed its normalization months after its February announcement on the closure of its plant in Gunsan, North Jeolla Province, because of financial problem, asking for government aid to address that.

As KDB, GM headquarters, GM Korea and its labor union agreed to a plan in May in which the headquarters offers $6.4 billion and KDB pours in $750 million, the carmaker seemed to be recovering from the feud, introducing new cars here. However, the plan over splitting the body is again dragging GM Korea down from putting its operation back on track.


Nam Hyun-woo namhw@koreatimes.co.kr
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