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[Editorial] End Hyundai Union’s Strike Addiction

Posted January. 21, 2009 08:01,   


The Hyundai Motor chapter of the Korea Metal Workers Union has decided to go on strike again. It says the weekday two-shift rotation at the factory in Jeonju that was supposed to begin this month was not implemented. This is nonsense, however. When the deal was made in September last year, the global crisis facing the automotive industry had not struck yet. Now, however, Korea faces a different situation. Workers at the factory are working four hours a day because the plant has a year’s supply of 1,400 new buses. The union’s leaders, however, want a two-shift rotation that would cut working hours while maintaining the same pay levels.

Committee representatives from nine factories say now is not the time to strike, yet the union is still calling for struggle. A Pyeongtaek resident posted a message saying, “If you have time, come to Ssangyong Motor’s factory in Pyeongtaek (Gyeonggi Province). What does the union and strikes mean when the company collapses?” on the homepage of the Democratic Labor Struggles Committee, to which Hyundai union leaders belong.

With the global recession, world car sales are expected to drop from 72 million in 2007 to 60 million this year. Even the arrogant United Auto Workers of the United States have begun negotiating on making concessions in working conditions and wages. Toyota, which saw its first deficit in 70 years, will cut production from February to April through job sharing. Only the Hyundai union is moving in the opposite direction by asking for overproduction, a sure way to do damage to the company.

The Korean people and the government can no longer tolerate the strike-addicted Hyundai union. Some say the union should be allowed to go on strike and suffer the consequences of losing their sales channels at home and abroad. Though this could bring a heavy negative impact, the union must end its anachronistic addiction to strikes.

Hyundai employees can protect themselves by rejecting the union leadership that cries for struggle to protect their job security. The most valuable labor right is the right to work. The company should not be swayed by the union. If the company and union again betray the Korean people, who bought their cars in the past regardless of quality or price, they must prepare for a joint collapse.