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GM's South Korea workers approve wage deal, avoid strike

[SEOUL] General Motors Co employees in South Korea voted in favour of a wage deal on Thursday, averting a strike for a second consecutive year in a country whose auto sector is renowned for industrial action.

A union spokesman told Reuters that 55 percent of workers approved a tentative deal reached on Monday, under which GM Korea would raise the basic monthly wage by 83,000 won (S$97.4) and pay each worker 10.5 million won in bonuses and incentives.

The deal includes a plan to make next-generation Chevrolet Malibu sedans on a second production line at GM's Bupyeong plant west of the capital Seoul, likely ending speculation of production at the plant being scaled back.

The union earlier this month said members refused to work overtime and staged a partial strike over pay, in action that did not affect production volume. "In collaboration with the union, the company is fully focused on achieving record sales in 2015," GM Korea said in a statement on Thursday. GM will focus on the introduction of new Chevrolet products in South Korea, it said.

Before the deal, the future of the US car maker's Korean operations had been uncertain as labour costs had risen nearly 50 per cent over the past five years.

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The Detroit carmaker has four plants in South Korea, three assembling vehicles and one building transmissions. Together, they account for nearly one-fifth of GM's global output. "South Korea will remain an export base for mature advanced markets like the US," Stefan Jacoby, GM chief of international operations, told Reuters in a recent interview.

GM said on Wednesday it would invest US$1 billion to turn India into a global export hub, as a part of a years-long US$5 billion plan with Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp to develop a family of Chevrolet vehicles for fast-growing emerging markets.


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