Labor disputes have caused workers to go on strike at the automaker's Ulsan plant in South Korea.
[UPDATE] After almost a two-day strike, workers have resumed production on Tuesday night.
The Hyundai Kona compact SUV is about to make its North American debut this week at the Los Angeles Auto Show, but the event won’t come without at bit of controversy. Automotive News reports that Kona production has stopped at the automaker’s South Korea manufacturing plant over labor disputes, with Hyundai’s labor union claiming the company is seeking to cut jobs. Thus far, the work stoppage has cost Hyundai over 1,200 Konas, which are desperately needed to help stem declining global sales.
In the report, the union alleges that Hyundai is looking to outsource some jobs while replacing others with new automated manufacturing systems. On the other side, Hyundai officials claim the union is making “irrelevant demands,” such as wanting more windows in the factory. In addition, the union is also apparently upset that the automaker started Kona production on a new assembly line without consultation.
Whatever the reason, the production stoppage isn’t exactly timely for the automaker. The Kona is seen as a vehicle that has been desperately needed for some time in the very competitive and lucrative compact SUV segment – a corner of the automotive market were Hyundai has been absent. Having launched earlier this year in other markets the Kona has already enjoyed sales success, and that trend is expected to continue in the United States where compact SUV sales have been very strong.
The union has warned that further strikes are a possibility. Hyundai countered by suggesting strikes will only cause further problems for the automaker’s workforce, which is said to be “suffering from the worst sales slowdown.” Hyundai global sales are down 6 percent through September of this year, but high demand for the Kona could reverse the trend.
It will be interesting to see how this dispute transpires once the Kona becomes an official North American model at the L.A. Show.
Source: Automotive News