Almost 2,500 General Motors Korea workers apply for voluntary redundancy package

Members of a civic group attend a protest demanding prosecutors in Gunsan to investigate General Motors Korea over its decision to shut down a plant in the city. (Yonhap via Reuters)
Updated 05 March 2018

Almost 2,500 General Motors Korea workers apply for voluntary redundancy package

SEOUL: Almost 2,500 workers at General Motors’ South Korean unit, equivalent to 15 percent of its staff, have applied for a redundancy package that the US automaker is offering as part of a drastic restructuring, union officials said.
GM shocked South Korea last month when it said it was closing down one plant and would decide on the fate of three others in the coming weeks — decisions that hang on potential financial support from Seoul and the amount of concessions it can gain from unions.
At the Gunsan factory which is due to be shut down, 941 out of some 2,000 workers applied for the redundancy package, the officials said, declining to be identified as the information has not been publicly released.
GM Korea declined to comment.
A GM document seen by Reuters showed that over the longer-term, the US automaker aims to cut 5,000 South Korean jobs but keep production steady if Seoul agrees to its $2.8 billion proposal for the loss-making operation.
Under the redundancy package, which had an application deadline of March 2, workers are being offered three times their annual base salary, money for college tuition and more than $9,000 toward a new car.
GM Korea plans to hold another round of talks with the union on Wednesday where the two sides may discuss the fate of the workers at the Gunsan plant who did not apply for the package as well as the automaker’s proposals on wages.
The union is under much pressure to make concessions. South Korea’s auto association added its voice on Friday, arguing that workers’ wages at GM were high.
“We should not miss the golden time for labor reform,” the Korea Automobile Manufacturers Association said in a statement.
The South Korean government is expected to start due diligence on GM Korea this week as it weighs whether to spend taxpayers’ money to rescue the unit.


Case against Ghosn excuse to get him out of Nissan, claim lawyers

Updated 13 November 2019

Case against Ghosn excuse to get him out of Nissan, claim lawyers

  • The former motor giant chief’s legal team has alleged that both his arrest and the prosecution efforts have been illegal

TOKYO: The drama surrounding the arrest of Carlos Ghosn, former boss of motor giants Nissan and Renault, has yet to reach its climax. Yet the plot continues to thicken with each new development.

On Monday, Ghosn’s defense lawyers unveiled court submissions highlighting the circumstances in which the 65-year-old executive was arrested and subsequently held in detention.

“We believe that Mr. Carlos Ghosn is innocent. We believe that the arrest and the prosecution efforts thus far are illegal and therefore Mr. Ghosn should be immediately released,” the head of his defense team, Junichiro Hironaka, said during a press conference at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan in Tokyo on Monday.

Hironaka claimed that Nissan wanted to kick out Carlos Ghosn from the company and therefore put together a team dedicated to searching around for something that would justify them to do that.

“This prosecution motion wasn’t initiated because the prosecution side believed that Mr. Ghosn had committed an illegal act. Fundamentally there is a problem with this being treated as a criminal act,” he said.

Hironaka further said that the prosecutor’s office is supposed to be acting in the public good for everyone and not behalf of a specific corporation.

“From the investigation level, there were various problems and mistakes with this case. Furthermore, the Japanese persecution office can’t reach overseas so they rely on Nissan employees to go into Mr. Ghosn’s offices and residences and removed objects illegally,” he said.

Hironaka said there is no evidence to support the alleged wrongdoing claim that Nissan made payments to SBA in Oman, and Ghosn re-directed that money to himself or his family.

“The amounts that were paid by Nissan matched exactly the amounts due to SBA,” he said.

The lawyer had a similar response to the reports connecting some donations by Ghosn to a school in Lebanon that would somehow benefit himself. “There is absolutely no evidence or factual basis for indicating that,” Hironaka said.

He said that his team is trying to access correct information and find out what evidence the prosecution might have.

“I have made an effort to share information with the media, including the foreign media, during this whole pre-trial motion,” he said.

Under the Japanese system, the prosecutors are not required to disclose all the evidence at their disposal. Japanese law requires that prosecutors must disclose anything related to any evidence related to the specific filings they make.

They must also disclose any evidence that is related to the filings that are made by the defense counsel. However, there is no requirement for them to disclose evidence from other parts.

Ghosn was arrested at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport on Nov. 19, 2018, on multiple charges related to his stewardship of the two companies.

The cases involved not only Nissan-Renault and Japan’s Mitsubishi Motors (part of the Franco-Japanese alliance), but also the Japanese and French governments along with various key players from Asia and the Middle East.

Nissan was on the brink of bankruptcy in March 1999, with about 2 trillion yen ($17.6 billion) in interest-bearing debt.

This is when it entered a capital partnership with major French automaker Renault SA. Ghosn has been credited for turning the company around dramatically since then.

However, fears that the high-profile CEO and chairman was planning to merge Nissan into a much larger multinational motor alliance appeared to have fueled speculation regarding the future of the company.

It was reportedly argued within Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government that the automaker would no longer be recognizably Japanese.

The case has larger ramifications and the two governments have routinely become involved in discussions related to its future.

According to news reports, when Macron and Abe met in Buenos Aires, the French president asked that the Franco-Japanese alliance be maintained.

On being asked by Arab News Japan about reports of a prosecution team visiting Saudi Arabia and Oman, Hironaka confirmed that the visit indeed took place after Ghosn’s arrest.

“However, we have not been given any access to any information that they may or may not have gathered there,” he said.