* 75% of unionized workers of Kumho Tire vote down the tentative collective agreement, mainly due to the employee relocation deal which sparks workers' concerns and discontent on the 'potential corporate downsizing'.
75 percent of union members of the Kumho Tire labor union turned down the collective agreement that had been tentatively agreed to by the negotiators representing its labor union and the company. Union members rejected the tentative collective agreement, because the agreement included 'an employee relocation plan', instead of the layoff and compulsory retirement which might be caused by the reduced production of tires.
According to the Kumho Tire labor union, the voting was conducted at the three production plants located in Gwangju, Gokseong and Pyeongtaek on February 13 and 1,951 out of a total of 2,610 union members(74.7%) who participated in the vote turned down the tentative collective agreement with the voting rate of 89.9 percent, while only 650 members(24.9%) supported the agreement.
The labor union and management of Kumho Tire reached a tentative agreement at the 12th round of the collective bargaining held at the Gwangju plant on January 29. The labor and management held a meeting of the 'labor-management council for employment stability and mutual development' and agreed to a tentative agreement, not to conduct the layoff and compulsory retirement plan but to set up a plan to relocate the employees and deal with the surplus manpower.
It is estimated that due to the reduction of production volumes, a total of 186 employees per day will end up with the surplus manpower at the production plants in Gwangju, Gokseong, Pyeongtaek, and the R&D center, who are proposed to be relocated to other plants in accordance with the operation rate of the production lines of respective plants.
However, the relocation plan met a headwind, because union members rejected the employee relocation which they thought will eventually lead to the downsizing. The Kumho Tire labor union failed to persuade its union members, even though it stressed to "fully gather the opinions of the rank and file membership and respond to the manpower operation in cooperation with the representatives of the rank and file in each production process, and the employee relocation will be conducted in a transparent and fair manner."
Jeong Song-gang, Gokseong plant union local leader, said that "it seems that the stress and discontent of union members eventually blew up at the employee relocation plan, after having been accumulated in the process of China's Doublestar acquisition over Kumho Tire." "Even though workers do not lose their jobs right now, but it would have been hard for the workers who have worked for decades to accept the employee relocation plan which does not take their opinions into consideration," he explained.
Another item in the tentative agreement regarding the commencing date of the retirement age which will be changed from 'the day reaching 60 years old(birthday)' to 'the last day of the year in the age of 60(December 31)' also reportedly affected the union members' rejection, as union members criticized the labor union focused more on the benefit of the retiring workers in the negotiation, rather than tackling the manpower surplus conditions like the employee relocation. A labor union official in the Gwangju region said that "union members have been suffering from a greater sense of deprivation in the process of Doublestar's control over Kumho Tire, and union members complained the labor union made too many concessions to the employer."
The Kumho Tire labor union issued a statement that "(it will) humbly accept the opinion and choice of union members with respect and grave responsibility and make decisions in a responsible manner."
reported by Bae Hye-jung
translated by Kim Sung-jin
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