Jobs popular among female workers from border countries
OSTRAVA, Czech Republic -- It has been more than two years since Hyundai Motor established a large-scale manufacturing plant in the Czech Republic.
Apart from the factory’s role as a logistics base for Hyundai’s automobile sales in Europe, an issue has emerged as to whether the Korean company has been gaining favorable image from Czech citizens and its government.
Though the automaker’s factory is located in a small city of Nosovice, whose population stays only at about 1,000, it has been playing a significant role in activating the economy of the northeastern area of the country.
The northeastern region which includes Ostrava, the fourth-largest city of the Czech Republic and close to Nosovice, lags behind the western part involving Prague in citizens’ income level.
“As out plant pays higher than other workplaces in this region, many workers apply for jobs,” said Lim Sung-ho, the chief administrator of the Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Czech.
He said the factory has secured 3,300 employees including those from border countries such as Slovakia, Austria and Poland
“I believe Hyundai and Korean subcontractors here are contributing to activation of the sluggish economy of the Czech eastern part by creating a number of jobs,” he said.
In particular, the portion of female employees of the plant is quite high compared to ordinary car manufacturing plants in other countries.
Hyundai’s sojourning executives attributed the high ratio of female workers to East European women’s strong willingness toward social participation.
The ratio of women is higher among the staff of Hyundai’s subcontractors including Pyeonghwa Automotive Czech, located in the outskirts of Ostrava as an auto supplier.
“Female employees account for more than 90 percent of our staff,” Pyeonghwa Automotive technical director Cho Young-jin said.
The plant and subcontractors have sufficiently backed by the Czech government in terms of easing regulatory hurdles.
Hyundai Motor is considering carrying out social contribution activities in the country in the coming years.
So far, the company has put in about 1.2 billion euros ($1.5 billion) into the plant that currently has an annual capacity of 250,000 units.
The plant has the goal of raising its production capacity to 300,000 units in 2012. It produces models such as Tucson ix, a sport utility vehicle, and i30, a European-style hatchback.
The plant is equipped with the latest manufacturing facilities including fully automated body assembly line and environmentally friendly painting facility.
“A variety of components, including the headlights and chassis of vehicles produced at the plant are undergoing strenuous tests and that the vehicles are being tested on the test tracks within the plant before being delivered,” chief administrator Lim said.
Its test tracks have a total length of 3.3 kilometers such as straight stretches and those that simulate 10 different road conditions.
In addition, production facilities for modules and seats are located within the Czech factory, allowing the company to reduce the plant’s daily logistics needs by about 200 truckloads when the plant is operating at full capacity.
By Kim Yon-se
Korea Herald correspondent