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Workers at Kia Motors Join Partial Strike

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Link: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20050829/ap_on_...rea_auto_strike

By KELLY OLSEN, AP Business Writer
Mon Aug 29, 5:29 AM ET

SEOUL, South Korea - Assembly lines at  South Korea's two biggest automakers partially shut down Monday as workers at Kia Motors Corp. joined colleagues at Hyundai Motor Co. who walked out last week seeking higher wages.

Workers at Hyundai, South Korea's largest automaker, which owns 38.7 percent of No. 2 Kia, laid down tools for part of a third day after similar action Thursday and Friday.

Hyundai workers planned two stoppages totaling four hours Monday, two hours during the day shift and a similar one at night, said company spokesman William Park. Kia workers planned to be off the job for eight hours over two shifts, the company said.

Hyundai and Kia together were the world's ninth largest auto manufacturer with combined production of 3.18 million vehicles in 2004, according to Automotive News. They trailed No. 8 Honda Motor Co. of Japan by just 230 vehicles.

As the largest single major shareholder in Kia, Hyundai is considered to have a controlling stake in Kia.

Hyundai, maker of the Sonata midsize sedan and the luxury Equus, has ambitions with Kia to become the world's sixth-largest carmaker by 2009.

Strikes at Hyundai and Kia have become something of an annual event and are seen as part of South Korea's labor negotiating process.

Hyundai's union has gone on strike every year but one since it was established in 1987. The government used rarely invoked powers to end a Hyundai strike in 1993, and the company's union decided not to stage a walkout the following year.

Hyundai projects it will suffer 15,576 vehicles in lost production worth 223.8 billion won ($217.1 million) through Tuesday. A five-day walkout last year cost about 263.1 billion won ($255.2 million) in production losses.

Workers at Hyundai want more pay, better working conditions and more say in management decisions, including the company's overseas operations. Kia's union is seeking higher wages and incentive payments.

Hyundai's union, fearing job losses, has also asked management to consult with it about the carmaker's overseas operations, including expansions in output and moving production lines overseas.

Hyundai has four overseas plants — in Turkey, India, China and the United States. The U.S. plant, located in Montgomery, Ala., began production in May.

Kia expects 10,569 vehicles, or 152.8 billion won ($148.2 million), in lost production losses from the total of 48 hours of strike time planned for this week, according to a company statement to the Korea Exchange.

"We don't see a major impact" on long-term production as a result of the walkout, said Michael Choo, a Kia spokesman, who referred to the strike as "business as usual."

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