Ssangyong’s offer would substantially hike payments for overtime, holiday work and severance packages at retirement. But analysts say the low-volume automaker is on the threshold of a turnaround and a strike would destroy the momentum.
Workers at GM Korea and Renault Samsung have voted to authorize strikes, and their counterparts at Hyundai, Kia and Ssangyong threaten to walk out to underscore their demands for wage increases, wage reform and other changes.
Besides economy and performance, there also is the prestige factor. Bragging rights are a strong feature of Korean culture and the domestic diesels approach the status of the coveted German imports that mostly are diesel-powered.
While both Hyundai and Kia forecast sluggish markets that will limit growth for 2014, and report operating and net income was down in 2013, union negotiators likely will not perceive them to be in dire straits.
Under the agreement, Chongqing will provide tax breaks and other incentives for the plant, Beijing Hyundai’s fourth in the country. Construction could begin late this year, with production launching in 2016.
Last year was the German marque’s best ever in Korea, with sales of 33,066 vehicles, accounting for more than 21% of all new import registrations. Including the Mini brand, the automaker’s share stood at 25%.
A spokesman confirms the automaker plans a product portfolio for North America and has hired a consultant to help it find a more palatable corporate and brand name. The aim is to describe a product with quality, vigor and a long future.
A spokesman denies GM Korea is being downsized or will see production transferred to China, saying instead that the growing Chinese market in fact means opportunity in the form of increased CKD exports.
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