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Hyundai Motor Union Elects Moderate as Leader

Posted September. 26, 2009 07:51,   


The union of Hyundai Motor yesterday elected as its leader a moderate who is known to put the interests of union members ahead of conflict.

Lee Gyeong-hun is the first moderate elected to the post in 15 years since Lee Yeong-bok in 1994. The election result is likely to significantly affect Korea’s labor circles.

Lee beat hardliner Kwon Oh-il in the first round of voting Sept. 15. In the final round, Lee emerged victorious. The final vote had 40,288 union members taking part out of 44,869, or a turnout of 89.8 percent.

In the final round, Lee gained 21,177 or 52.56 percent of the votes, beating Kwon’s 18,929 votes and 46.98 percent. Lee will take over next month for a two-year term.

Lee is a member of the Union of Forward-moving Factory Workers, a gathering of Hyundai Motor’s staff supporting a moderate and practical stance. He had lost six straight times for the union chief position since 1997.

His strategy for victory was apparently to distance himself from hardliners from the beginning of election campaign, warning that the union would collapse without changes in the progressive Korea Metal Workers’ Union, which the Hyundai union belongs to. His moderate stance appealed to many union members tired of the militant labor movement.

“A strike can be a tactic, but cannot be the purpose of our struggle. After taking office, I will clearly deal with issues with the Korea Metal Workers’ Union. For example, I’ll get back the three labor rights belonging to the metal workers’ union, including the right to bargain,” he said.

Labor experts say Hyundai’s union under its more moderate leader is highly likely to clash with the militant Korean Confederation of Trade Unions and the metal workers’ union.

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