GM Korea has decided to cut the second shift at its second plant in Bupyeong temporarily until the end of 2019, according to the company on Monday. The Bupyeong plant has been running at about 30 percent capacity. The plant is capable of building 180,000 units a year at full capacity but is currently manufacturing only 65,000 units a year.
GM Korea has been running two shifts at the Bupyeong plant despite a remarkably low rate of operation. But it has been an unconventional double shift, different from a typical day and night shift. Group A would work from 7 a.m. to 3:40 p.m. on Mondays and Tuesdays while group B would work from 3:40 p.m. to 12:20 a.m. plus overtime work of an hour and a half on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.
GM’s South Korean unit has continued with the unconventional double shifts as its labor union protested strongly against halting one shift at the factory. GM closed its plant in Gunsan after it cut one of the two shifts at the plant. Taking a hint from the example of the Gunsan plant, the labor union said it would accept cutting one shift only if the plant picks up more volume.
GM announced that it would invest 56 billion won into its Bupyeong plant and increase production volume in stages by 75,000 units. Against this backdrop, the labor union stepped back from its demand and became cooperative. The company and the labor union have agreed to halt one shift until the end of 2019, when the plant will be able to build more volume, and return to two shifts after that.
The transition to one shift will save the company the cost of running the plant at night and overtime pay for night shift workers. In such a case, workers will be able to work regularly although their pay will be reduced.
But another problem remains unsolved. Irregular workers at the Bupyeong plant are raising an objection to the agreement saying the decision may take their job away. According to the auto industry, about 150 workers will inevitably lose their job once the plant moves to one shift.