SEOUL, April 14 (Korea Bizwire) — Unionized workers at Renault Samsung Motors Corp. voted Wednesday to accept an agreement with the company over wages for last year as the automobile industry is struggling to cope with the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.
The company said 70 percent of the 1,700-member union voted to accept a wage freeze and cash bonuses of 8.88 million won (US$7,320) per person for 2019.
The wage deal represents a consensus between the company and the union to make joint efforts to weather the impact of the coronvirus outbreak on the automobile industry, it said.
The company and the union had held 19 rounds of wage negotiations since September. Union workers held a two-week partial strike in January, causing production losses of about 10,400 vehicles worth about 200 billion won.
To avoid further losses from walkouts, the company shut down its sole plant in Busan, 453 kilometers south of Seoul, for the nighttime shift from Jan. 10.
It was the second time that the company partially shut down the plant after it took a similar step for one day during wage negotiations with the labor union in May 2018.
In late January, the union suspended partial strikes undertaken in protest against the company’s wage freeze proposal and voluntary retirement program, so they could resume talks in February.
The company has said it will be difficult to maintain the current workforce as the output volume of Nissan Motor Co.’s Rogue sport-utility vehicle is expected to fall sharply this year from last year’s 60,000 units.
Renault Samsung produced about 100,000 Rogues at its local factory that were exported, under a manufacturing contract with Nissan.
But Nissan cut its output allocation to the plant to 60,000 last year, citing output losses caused by labor strikes.
To offset the reduction in Rogue production, Renault Samsung badly needs to secure export volume for the XM3 compact SUV, but the company is still in talks with its parent company Renault and no decision has been made yet.
From January to March, Renault Samsung’s sales plunged 28 percent to 28,390 units from 39,210 in the year-ago period.
The company’s current lineup includes the all-electric SM3 Z.E. sedan, SM6 midsize sedan, QM6 SUV, XM3 SUV, Renault Master bus and Renault Twizy two-seat electric car.
Renault S.A. has an 80-percent stake in Renault Samsung.