Unionized workers at GM Korea Co., the South Korean unit of General Motors Co., voted for a strike on Friday to demand higher salaries and other benefits as the company struggles with three straight years of losses.
Some 69.4 percent of the carmaker's 15,000-strong unionized workers cast ballots in favor of the general strike, the union said, a move that may set the stage for a walkout.
In South Korea, by law, a union cannot go on strike during mediation by the state-run National Labor Relations Commission which usually lasts 10 days.
The labor union is demanding the company raise workers' monthly basic wages by 154,883 won (US$133) and 500 percent of the basic wage in bonuses -- demands that GM Korea deems excessive. GM Korea offered an increase of 50,000 won in basic monthly salary and 9 million won in bonuses per worker, a company spokeswoman said.
GM, the Detroit-based parent company, is in the process of carrying out worldwide restructuring, and the Korean unit has consistently posted poor performances in recent years.
It posted net losses the past three years -- 350 billion won in 2014, 986.8 billion won in 2015 and 631.4 billion won in 2016 -- due mainly to slowing global demand.
GM Korea, which is 76.9 percent owned by GM, has three plants -- one each in Bupyeong, Gunsan and Changwon -- whose combined capacity reaches 750,000 vehicles.
For the whole of 2016, it sold 597,000 vehicles -- 180,000 domestically and 417,000 overseas -- down 4 percent from 622,000 a year earlier. Sales at the Korean unit accounted for 6 percent of GM's global sales of 9.96 million units last year, the company said.
In the January-June period this year, GM Korea's total sales fell 9.3 percent to 278,998 units from 307,512 in the year-ago period, it said. (Yonhap)