General Motors Korea and union to hold new round of wage talks

The most thorny issue between GM Korea and its union is job security for 680 workers at the Gunsan factory that is due to be closed by May. Above, an assembly line of GM Korea's Bupyeong plant in Incheon. (Reuters)
Updated 20 April 2018
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General Motors Korea and union to hold new round of wage talks

SEOUL: General Motors’ South Korean unit and its labor union are set to hold another round of wage talks on Friday afternoon, keen to stave off a threat by the US automaker to seek bankruptcy for the loss-making unit.
GM, which in February announced its plan to shut down one of its plants in Korea, wants wage concessions from its labor union as well as government funding and incentives to save three other factories in the country.
The Detroit automaker has said the unit is likely to file for bankruptcy if there was no restructuring agreement by Friday. Marathon talks on Thursday failed to reach an agreement.
The two sides will hold another round of talks at 1 p.m. Korea time (0400 GMT), a union official said, adding that the most thorny issue is job security for 680 workers at the Gunsan factory that is due to be closed by May.
“We don’t want a disaster. We still have to keep in mind the worst situation,” he said, declining to be identified due to the sensitive nature of the talks.
“Today is an important day and we will concentrate our efforts on the negotiations.”
Any deal reached would be subject to a vote by union members in the coming days.
If they fail to reach a deal, GM Korea plans to hold a board meeting at around 8 p.m. to discuss a plan to file for bankruptcy protection for the operation, a source familiar with the matter said, also declining to be identified.
GM Korea is “committed to reach a tentative agreement with the labor union today to support the plan to make the company profitable and viable for the long-term,” said company spokesman Park Hae-ho.


Philips to close its UK factory in 2020, with loss of 400 jobs

Updated 17 January 2019
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Philips to close its UK factory in 2020, with loss of 400 jobs

AMSTERDAM/LONDON: Dutch health technology company Philips said on Thursday it planned to close its only factory in Britain in 2020, with the loss of around 400 jobs, the latest firm to move manufacturing jobs out of Britain.
The move is part of a push by Philips to reduce its large manufacturing sites worldwide to 30 from 50, and a spokesman said the decision had no direct link with Britain’s decision to leave the European Union.
However, the company said in a statement that it had to “pro-actively mitigate the potential impact of various ongoing geopolitical challenges, including uncertainties and possible obstructions that may affect its manufacturing operations.”
The factory in Glemsford, Suffolk, produces babycare products, mainly for export to other European countries. Almost all its activities will move to Philips’ plant in Drachten, the Netherlands, which already employs around 2,000 workers.
“We have announced the proposal after careful consideration, and over the next period, we will work closely with the impacted colleagues on next steps,” said Neil Mesher, CEO of Philips UK & Ireland.
“The UK is an important market for us, and we will continue to invest in our commercial organization and innovation programs in the country.”
Once a sprawling conglomerate, Philips has transformed itself into a health technology specialist in recent years, shedding its consumer electronics and lighting divisions.
The firm has previously warned that Brexit would put Britain’s status as a manufacturing hub at risk.
Chief Executive Frans van Houten last year said that without a customs union — which has been ruled out by Prime Minister Theresa May — Philips would have to rethink its manufacturing footprint.
Britain is set to leave the EU on March 29, and politicians are at an impasse over how to do so after lawmakers overwhelmingly rejected May’s proposed withdrawal agreement on Tuesday.
Other firms have moved jobs out of Britain in recent weeks, sparking alarm among lawmakers that Brexit is impacting corporate decision-making.
Jaguar Land Rover has slashed UK jobs — mainly due to lower Chinese demand and a slump in European diesel sales — while Ford has said it will slash thousands of jobs as part of its turnaround plan.
While both decisions were driven by factors other than Brexit, each firm has also been vocal in warning of the risks of no-deal Brexit, where Britain leaves abruptly in March without a transition period.