Hyundai Kona Production Halted Over Labor Dispute

Two days of lost production has cost the Korean automaker approximately 1,230 cars as of Tuesday.

Hyundai Motor America

On the eve of its official U.S. debut in Los Angeles, the Hyundai Kona has been hit with quite the rollout snag as production halted over escalating disputes with the South Korean plant workers who put the compact crossover together. As of Tuesday, the two days of lost production has cost the Korean automaker approximately 1,230 cars.

Hyundai auto workers have walked off the job this week in response to supposed plans to downsize the Kona plant's human workforce, according to Reuters. The labor union is also reportedly in the midst of annual salary negotiations with management and is now warning of a wider strike. According to the union, Hyundai is looking to distribute more of the Kona's assembly process to both automation and upstream part suppliers, moves that the union is naturally against. Meanwhile, management says that the labor union has been making "irrelevant demands" such as extra windows in the facility.

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Labor union leader Ha Boo-young said that Hyundai's decision to move forward with Kona production on a new assembly line "was made without consultation with the union and was unacceptable" and that a wider strike could happen "should there be another provocation by management."

This week's labor dispute throws a wrench into Hyundai's eight-crossover, two-year plan, which aims to get the automaker back on track after a 6 percent decline in sales in the first nine months of 2017 compared with the same period a year ago. 

The new Kona is scheduled to debut at the L.A. Auto Show Wednesday and go on sale early 2018.