GM’s time to make a dealBoth the management and union of GM Korea are engaged in a face-off, pressuring the government to mediate and take sides instead of offering to take any burden or responsibility.
Since the Detroit-based automaker announced its plan to shutter the Gunsan factory as a part of a bigger restructuring plan for its Korean unit early this month, the two sides have not been able to sit across from one another.
Instead, they are busy finger-pointing outside the negotiating room and looking at the government or Blue House to get involved in bargaining talks.
Barry Engle, GM executive in charge of international operations, while in a meeting with the government and state-run Korea Development Bank, asked Seoul authorities to persuade the union to share the pain as reduced labor cost is essential to lessen losses.
GM estimates that the Korean operation must cut back labor costs by 560 billion won ($523 million) before it can be assigned new car models.
It wants to axe welfare allowances for 16,000 Korean workers by 300 billion won, freeze their salaries and suspend bonuses to save another 260 billion won.
The union is refusing to bargain with the management and, instead, threatens to strike. The union transferred the blame to the government for failing to keep watch over GM’s reckless management. It is more or less demanding the government to defend their paycheck and jobs.
GM Korea unionized workers plan to march up to the Blue House on Friday after rallies at the Bupyeong and Gunsan plants to protest the closure of the Gunsan factory and demand a debt-to-equity swap.
The employer and employees are fighting, even as their ship is sinking. We cannot waste our precious tax money on such an irresponsible workplace. Why are they dumping their losses on society and the government after having enjoyed all the fruits of their heyday?
If the two sides cannot come to an agreement on the rigorous turnaround plan, taxpayers won’t give a dime.
JoongAng Ilbo, Feb. 27, Page 30