Some 40 contract workers who stormed the headquarters office of GM Korea CEO Kaher Kazem on July 9 were still occupying it Monday, marking a full two weeks of illegal occupation.
Their initial strategy was to force Kaher to discuss hiring all 1,670 employees of the contractors that operate within GM Korea plants. Reportedly they planned to record Kaher’s statements for use in pressing the government to enforce a recent court ruling requiring that the company hire 770 contract workers at a plant in Changwon.
GM Korea has not complied with the order and is liable to pay a $6 million fine while it seeks a negotiated remedy to the situation.
An additional 900 contract workers are employed at GM Korea’s two assembly plants in Bupyeong, but there has been no court ruling requiring that the automaker hire them.
The occupiers are under the watch of security personnel. They seem to be causing no harm and no interruption in operations at Kazem’s Bupyeong office.
GM Korea has secreted Kaher in other offices under security watch. He continues to manage the company and is directing efforts to expand production at the underutilized Plant 2 at Bupyeong.
A GM Korea spokesman reports the just-announced $50 million expansion of the plant is rolling out as planned. Construction will begin next week when workers go on their summer break. At that time a new body shop will be installed during a 3-week makeover of production facilities. Additional construction will continue on a limited basis throughout most of the year.
The plant is to begin building a new version of the Chevrolet Trax subcompact SUV by year-end.
At present Plant 1 accounts for the majority of production at Bupyeong. It is running flat-out, approaching its annual capacity of 270,000 vehicles.
The underutilized Plant 2’s current capacity is 180,000 vehicles. Last year it produced just 65,000 models of the Aveo and Malibu. Production of the new Trax is expected to eventually bring the plant up to capacity.
In addition to launching the plant expansion, Kaher also is involved in plans to hire 100 new engineers who will work on future products.
It is unlikely the occupiers will meet with Kazem. However, knowing they are occupying the CEO’s office is a rallying theme for crowds of contract workers who are picketing outside the Bupyeong gates. Others have been demonstrating and picketing outside and inside the small-car production complex in Changwon since 2017.