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[Reporter`s view] Daewoo survival now in its own hands

Posted November. 29, 2000 14:03,   


On the fateful day of Nov. 28, the management and the labor union of Daewoo Motor agreed on the company¡¯s restructuring plan, the faces of the upper labor union personnel looked even more ambivalent than during the negotiations, according to a high-ranking labor union official in Daewoo.

"It really takes the air out of most of us, but on the other hand, it is a great relief to get it out of the way," he said.

It had been 20 days since the court bankruptcy proceedings began. The labor union simply could not ignore the pressures of the government, the creditors and especially the media calling for a solution with the agreement by the labor union as a priority. Even as the assembly line ground to a halt and supplier companies closed doors, the strict adherence to moral duty threatened even the possibility of resuscitation of Daewoo. However, that seems to be behind us.

It was a great relief to the labor union personnel, as they had been the target of much criticism even by their coworkers. In fact, the labor union executives lost all support when their refusal to agree to the restructuring put Daewoo on a straight path to bankruptcy proceedings. The members of the labor union sent e-mails daily criticizing the labor union executives, asking why they were refusing to agree to the restructuring.

The workers at Changwon and Kunsan factories, still running unlike the factory in Pupyong, demanded, "Let's give the agreement and get back to work." Those behind the desks at Daewoo offered their resignations en masse, saying, "For a bankrupt company, the necessity of restructuring goes without saying."

On the night of the agreement Nov. 27, the last-minute scuffle over issues took three hours to resolve.

"It might take all night, but we must ask the opinion of all the (labor union) delegates one by one."

"If that is an attempt to wash down the agreement, it will be unacceptable."

"There isn't much time to lose. Regardless of the content of the agreement, the layoffs are inevitable. Let us sign the agreement and start preparing for the next phase of the fight."

The final urging by the labor union chairman led to the final agreement.

Although there are more obstacles to overcome prior to the factory's return to full operation, the ball is not on the creditors' and the government's side. Even partially resuscitating the Daewoo and successfully finding a foreign buyer is a task for the government and the creditors.

"I sincerely pray for the return to full operation at the factories," a labor union member with stubble worth at least a few days seemed to say, "Without the company, there can't be a labor union."