Employees at Hyundai have walked off the job this week, halting production of the company’s Kona crossover the same week it plans to debut it in the U.S. The move comes amid tense negotiations between the labor union representing workers of the Kona’s South Korean assembly plant and Hyundai management.
According to a report from Reuters workers and management are at an impasse regarding the Kona production schedule. Specifically, the labor union claims Hyundai is wanting to reduce head count at the plant in favor of automating certain tasks or outsourcing them to parts suppliers. Hyundai counters the union’s claims by saying workers are asking for lavish demands, such as additional windows inside the assembly plant.
Regardless, negotiations have reached a boiling point with workers stopping production. The new Kona is has only been on the market in South Korea and Europe for a few months and has proven to be a popular addition to the Hyundai product range. With production halted now for two days, Hyundai says it has had to forgo building over 1,200 Konas.
Compounding matters for Hyundai is the fact the company is in Los Angeles this week to debut the Kona for the U.S. market. Prior to this week’s labor dispute, the Kona is slated to go on-sale in the U.S. in early 2018. The U.S. market Kona is also slated to be produced in South Korea at the plant that is now striking.
Hyundai hasn’t said if the strike will impact its plans to launch the U.S. version of Kona. The Kona is seen as a key product to Hyundai stopping its sales slide in the U.S.
While the strike is currently isolated to one assembly plant, the labor union has been negotiating its entire labor contract since October. The union is threatening to expand the strike to all Hyundai plants it represents if the impasse between the two parties continues.