Electric cars threaten jobs: Hyundai South Korean union head

electric cars
The head of Hyundai's union says he is concerned that electric cars will kill jobs because they don't require engines and transmissions.  Hyundai photo.

The head of Hyundai’s union says he is concerned that electric cars will kill jobs because they don’t require engines and transmissions.  

Electric cars “evil”, according to union head

The head of Hyundai Motor’s union is warning his members that they may face a crisis as sales for the South Korean auto maker’s sales slide in key markets and cautioning that electric cars are evil and will kill jobs.

According to Reuters, the South Korean auto industry is known for strong unions where workers are paid more and have better benefits than workers in other sectors.

Ha Bu-young, head of the Hyundai Motor union, South Korea’s biggest and most powerful union, says he is concerned about the long term effects of the rise in popularity of electric cars on the auto industry.

He is worried that jobs could be lost as the number of EVs produced rises because electric vehicles do not require engines or transmissions.

Ha predicts, in a worst case scenario, that a massive shift to EVs could lead to a loss of 70 per cent of jobs at Hyundai.

“Electric cars are disasters. They are evil. We are very nervous,” he told Reuters.

Ha says the union is working on devising ways to build electric cars without losing a number of high-paying jobs.  He has proposed that Hyundai revive a committee that reviewed the impact of new vehicles and new technologies on jobs.

Also impacting the workers at South Korea’s automakers is falling sales of sedans larger and SUVs like the Santa Fe in the United States and other markets.  Hyundai along with others in the the South Korean auto industry now find themselves at a crossroads.

“We’re feeling job anxiety. We’re feeling a sense of crisis,” says Ha.

Some workers at Hyundai’s three largest plants in Ulsan, the world’s biggest car factory complex, have been asked to take longer holidays due to poor sales, according to Ha.  Management has proposed that some benefits, including free week-long trips to Europe for 500 workers annually be scaled back.

Ha points out that in the coming 15 years, about 30,000 workers out of 50,000 will retire, cushioning the impact that EVs could have on jobs.

Another factor impacting Hyundai’s and its affiliate company, Kia’s, sales was rising diplomatic tensions between Seoul and Beijing last year, which resulted in a sales slump in the world’s largest auto market.

So far in 2018, both Kia and Hyundai have reported modest global sales growth.





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