SEOUL (Reuters) – Hyundai Motor (005380.KS) workers resumed production of the Kona sport utility vehicle late on Tuesday, after a nearly two-day strike over the company’s decision to expand the model’s output ahead of its launch in the United States.
Hyundai has been in discussions with the union since October about boosting production ahead of the launch, part of the South Korean automaker’s plans reverse a sales slump in the United States.
But the company agreed late Tuesday to stop trying to expand Kona output on a new assembly line without a union agreement, a union spokesman said.
Workers fear the production plans will lead to assembly-line job cuts, more automation and the outsourcing of work to part-makers.
Hyundai has accused the union of making “irrelevant demands” such as requests for extra windows in the factory as part of the discussions.
Hyundai had aimed to ship to the United States starting Dec. 1 but the union spokesman said this schedule could be pushed back depending on the outcome of the discussions.
The U.S.-production version of the Kona is due to be unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show on Wednesday with U.S. sales slated to begin early next year. The Kona is currently sold in South Korea and Europe.
Hyundai Motor President Yoon Kap-han said on Tuesday it was regrettable that the labor union was disrupting production for a high-demand model at a time when most of its plants were “suffering from the worst sales slowdown.”
Hyundai Motor’s global sales fell 6 percent from January to September compared with the same period a year earlier, as a lack of SUV models hit sales in the U.S. market and a diplomatic row between Seoul and Beijing hurt sales in China.
Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin; Editing by Edwina Gibbs and Stephen Coates