Posted November. 29, 2017 08:50,
Updated November. 29, 2017 09:12
Unionized workers of Hyundai Motor Co. started a walkout by chaining up part of the production line of No. 1 plant in Ulsan from Monday. The union went on a strike as Hyundai Motor demanded expanded production of the Kona, small sport utility vehicle, for export to the United States. Ranking number one in domestic sales since it was launched in July, the Kona is a savior for the automaker that witnessed a 6 percent decrease in global market sales compared to last year. Hyundai Motor engaged in negotiations with the union for more than a month over increasing production to export the Kona to the United States from next year, but the two sides failed to reach an agreement. As the automaker pushed to increase production on Friday unilaterally, the union staged an illegal strike from Monday.
Over the first ten months of this year, the sales of Hyundai Motor decreased by 35 percent and 13 percent in China and the United States, respectively. The decreased sales in China were largely influenced by THADD retaliation but encroachment of Chinese cars in market share cannot be ignored as they emphasize price competitiveness. In the United States, Hyundai Motor experiences tough competition with Japanese cars, which are backed by weak yen and strong won. Is it truly necessary to acquire the permission of the union to increase the production of its popular vehicle when the future of the company is bleak? The act of the union chaining up plant facilities is no different from knocking down the company as long as the union can obtain its goal.
Even if Hyundai Motor needs the union’s consent to add production lines under its collective agreement, the content of the talk is limited to working conditions such as working hours. Nevertheless, the Hyundai Motor union is making requests that violates the current law of the Fire Services Act, such as the personnel rights and the managerial rights, by installing windows within plants, transferring field manager to another department and withdrawing the parts production of subcontractors. If Hyundai Motor fails to meet the demand at a point when the Kona SUV is gaining wide popularity, the demand may move to other companies at any time. Moreover, the union is taking hostage of the company’s desperateness to carry through unreasonable requests.
Hyundai's union did not get its nickname “Aristocrat Union” just because of high annual income. The selfish arrogance that it can have the company under its thumb anytime with strikes, has brought national criticism upon itself. There are even people whose dislike of the union prevents them from purchasing Hyundai vehicles. The management also has much to be blamed as it was too busy meeting the production quota that it turned a blind eye on illegal strikes. “We will hold the union responsible pursuant to company rules and laws, and eradicate illegal acts,” said Hyundai Motor CEO Yoon Gap-han. It is now time for the company to show vehemence of taking strict actions against the self-serving union that disregards the company’s crisis.