Tensions have been running high at GM Korea for months and they apparently boiled over yesterday after the company announced there wouldn’t be any bonuses.
Bloomberg reports several employees were enraged by the news and forced their way into the company’s executive offices. Video from the event shows a handful of people entering the office of GM Korea CEO Kaher Kazem and throwing chairs, knocking over plants and removing office furniture. The damage doesn’t appear to be too extensive but at least one chair was destroyed and it appears that Kazem’s computer was smashed.
GM Korea described the events as a “violent incident” that “resulted in significant damage to company property.” The automaker has reported the incident to police and has promised to take action against the employees involved.
While the decision not to offer bonuses might have sparked the latest incident, there has been a string of bad news coming out of GM Korea. Last year, rumors were flying that GM could pull the plug on Korean operations and in February the automaker announced a restructuring plan which would see the closure of its Gunsan plant by the end of May. At the time, GM said the Gunsan plant has only been running at around 20 percent capacity over the past three years and this made “continued operations unsustainable.”
GM Korea has been losing money for years and the company has proposed a $2.8 billion investment package and a $2.7 billion debt-for-equity swap to right the ship. However, the unit has also threatened to declare bankruptcy if the union doesn’t agree to cuts and the restructuring plan.
Earlier this year, GM International president Barry Engle said “The performance of our operations in South Korea needs to be urgently addressed by GM Korea and its key stakeholders.” He went on to say the company is at a “critical juncture” and discussions need to make significant progress.