Home > Company > News
GM, Renault face labor trouble
By Park Jin-hai

GM Korea and Renault Samsung are grappling with new labor challenges.

GM Korea's union for temporary employees has filed a class action lawsuit claiming that the company should switch its members' status to permanent workers, while members of Renault Samsung's union says outsourcing threatens their job security.

Fifty-seven members of the GM Temporary Workers Union from all three of its plants — Bupyeong, Gunsan and Changwon — filed a representative class action lawsuit with the Incheon District Court on Tuesday, claiming that they should be acknowledged as permanent workers.

Lee Young-su of GM Temporary Workers Union's Bupyeong chapter says they are facing massive layoffs since the company has put temporary workers at the top of the layoff list.

"A total of 3,200 temporary workers are on the verge of losing their jobs," he said.

Its Gunsan plant, which was hit hard after GM pulled its Chevrolet brand from Europe that the plant had been exporting, has received a suggestion from the company that it should change from the current two-shift system to one, and "in-source" jobs that had been done by the temporary workers to permanent workers.

In April, the Gusan plant, blaming the loss of production, shed 350 temporary workers in exchange for maintaining the two-shift system.

"In just a few months, the company repeats the rhetoric and is trying to press for the single-shift system. If so, almost all 650 temporary workers will have to leave. But, we don't see that it will end there. Rumors had it that a similar thing will happen at the rest of the plants as well."

The Supreme Court ruled that the Changwon plant's hiring of temporary workers in February 2013 was illegal. In December of last year, the Changwon District Court also acknowledged employment status for five of the Changwon plant's temporary workers should be that of a permanent worker, since although they were hired by the company's subcontractors, they received orders from the company, not from the subcontractors.

"Although the court ruled the Changwon plant's hiring of temporary workers was illegal, and acknowledged five of its temporary workers as permanent workers, nothing has changed ever," he added.

"They received no response from the company and continue to work as temporary workers with their employment threatened."

Renault Samsung, which has been enjoying brisk local sales and export of its Nissan Rogue SUV, is also having conflicts with its union members.

The company, starting from Feb.1, is outsourcing its power train team, comprised of 25 people.

But the labor union says it is invalid since the decision was made without agreement with labor, and fears that it will be a signal of massive layoffs to come.

"The unilateral decision for outsourcing and structural reform is a means of layoffs," said a union member of the company. "It holds little water that at a time when the company's local car sales and export increase, the company is having structural reform."

The union plans to continue to hold protests during lunch and in the evening until Friday, calling for holding meetings with the employment security committee, which the company agreed to hold in case of employment changes.

However, the company says outsourcing is helping increase the job security of workers.

"The power train team doesn't require expertise and, in consideration of managerial efficiency, we decided to outsource the jobs. Those people who were on the jobs will be transferred to different positions," said a company official.

He said that it is not the start of layoffs, but just the relocation of jobs.