March 27, 2018—Hyundai Motor’s union chief recently warned workers that they may face a similar crisis to the one hitting General Motors’ South Korean unit, adding that electric cars may destroy jobs, the Reuters news service reported.
South Korea’s auto industry has reached a crossroads of sorts. Due to high labor costs and sagging sales, GM plans to close one of its plants in the country by May, for example.
“We’re feeling job anxiety. We’re feeling a sense of crisis,” Ha Bu-young, the head of the Hyundai Motor union, told Reuters last week.
He said that at three of Hyundai’s five plants in Ulsan, South Korea, some workers had been asked to take longer holidays as sales of sedans and older model SUVs like the Santa Fe slow throughout much of the world.
Ha also worries about the advent of electric cars, which could eventually wreak havoc on traditional jobs, as they don’t require engines or transmissions. Hyundai’s union has predicted a drastic shift to electric cars could lead to a loss of 70 percent of Hyundai jobs in a worst-case scenario.
“Electric cars are disasters. They are evil. We are very nervous,” he said.
He said the union is closely considering how cars of the future might be built without slashing headcount.