Hyundai fails to bring plant back online as dispute continues

The assembly line at Hyundai Motor Co.’s Ulsan plant occupied by striking non-regular workers remained idle for the 22nd day on Monday despite the company’s attempts to resume operations.

On Monday the company attempted to bring the facility back online by bypassing areas occupied by the striking workers, but the efforts were soon called off due to interference from the non-regular workers, Hyundai officials said.

Hyundai had modified the assembly line to allow part of the production process to be carried out manually in order to bypass areas under the control of striking workers – the automated storage facility, and the conveyor that connects the paint shop to the general assembly section of the line.

Non-regular employees of Hyundai’s subcontractors working at the Ulsan plant have been striking since Nov 15, demanding that they be employed on regular contracts directly by the carmaker.

The non-regular workers had occupied three assembly lines early on in the strike but withdrew from other facilities maintaining control only over the line that produces subcompact cars Accent, Click and Verna.

According to Hyundai the strike has so far cost the company about 24,000 units in lost production and 270.4 billion won (S$311.2 million) in lost revenues.

While losses increase, the carmaker appears to be no closer to resolving the situation.

Although the company has conducted three-way talks between the non-regular workers’ union and Hyundai’s union and management, those involved have so far failed to find common ground.

In addition, members of the non-regular workers’ union not taking part in the sit-in strike began a six-day tour of facilities of Hyundai and other companies with non-regular workers to shore up support for their cause on Sunday.

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