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Remarks by President Moon Jae-in at Signing Ceremony for Mutually Beneficial, Gunsan-type Jobs Agreement

Source : Cheong Wa Dae

(Unofficial translation)

Fellow Koreans and Gunsan citizens,

I have come to Gunsan with very good news. There has been a lot of concern locally and in the Government over Hyundai Heavy Industries’ shipyard halting operation and GM Korea closing its plant here. Today, a mutually beneficial Gunsan-type jobs agreement will be signed to revive the city’s economy. I hope it becomes the platform that brings Gunsan’s economy a new growth surge.

Today’s signing ceremony sets in motion one more mutually beneficial jobs model following those created in Gwangju, Miryang, Daegu, Gumi and Hoengseong. The agreement encompasses all of the city’s compassionate stakeholders who will lay out Gunsan’s future: employees and managers at its automobile-related businesses, the local chapters of both national umbrella unions, civil society, the governments of Jeollabuk-do Province and the City of Gunsan as well as the Saemangeum Development and Investment Agency and Kunsan National University.

In Gunsan and the Saemangeum area, new electric vehicle manufacturing clusters will be built. By 2022, a total of 412.2 billion won will be invested and some 1,900 people will find jobs through direct employment. The now idle lines of the automobile plant will once again vigorously roll out cars, this time electric ones.

I extend my profound gratitude and respect to the labor and management of automobile businesses that have made a bold decision for Gunsan-type jobs and to the chairs of the two local union chapters Ko Jin-gon and Choi Jae-chun, who helped engineer the successful agreement, as well as Jeollabuk-do Governor Song Ha-jin, Gunsan Mayor Kang Im-june and the other relevant provincial and municipal officials.

Citizens of Gunsan,

Gunsan has always ushered in a new future with its bold determination.

Among the businesses in Gunsan that helped establish Korea’s modern industries were Kyungsung Rubber Industry Corp, which was the first company founded in Korea with native Korean capital; Baekhwa Brewery, which made the finest quality liquor in Korea out of rice harvested from the Jeolla provinces’ breadbasket; and Sedae Paper, which controlled the supply of paper needed to print the nation’s newspapers.

Longshoremen working at the Port of Gunsan in the 1920s organized a labor union that became the center of a nationwide labor movement. They did this in the spirit of all sharing food when they had it and starving together when they did not.

Through broad-minded concessions and burden sharing, Gunsan’s businesses, labor unions and local governments have been able to find ways to live prosperously together. This has been possible thanks to Gunsan’s proud tradition of helping to initiate entrepreneurship and protect labor rights.

During the period of industrialization, the city showed bold determination to build an industrial park by reclaiming land from the sea.

The exports of the manufacturing industry, which took advantage of the West Coast’s geographical advantages, have served as a driving force behind the economy of Gunsan, Jeollabuk-do and Korea as well. Gunsan's exports increased more than seven times in just 10 years to US$7.4 billion from about US$1 billion in 2001, accounting for more than half of Jeollabuk-do’s exports.

Today, Gunsan has made yet another bold decision to make electric vehicles its mainstay industry after overcoming all the related difficulties.

The Government has recently announced its future car national vision with the aim of becoming the most competitive country in terms of future vehicles by 2030.

The global electric vehicle market is expected to grow more than sevenfold to US$525 billion in 2030 from US$64 billion in 2018. The Gunsan-type job program will play a key role in the era of electric cars globally, going beyond Korea.

Gunsan is an optimal place to foster the electric vehicle industry. The city is home to the Jeonbuk Institute of Automotive Convergence Technology and the Saemangeum self-driving test site, and a new self-driving car test bed is now under construction. Experts in the field of future electric vehicles are being nurtured at Kunsan National University. As such, the city has a variety of excellent conditions for the development, testing and mass production of electric vehicles.
When it comes to exporting electric vehicles to China and Europe – the world’s biggest electric vehicle markets – Gunsan will see an unmatched logistics infrastructure take shape alongside its old port once construction of the new port and international airport in Saemangeum are completed.

Small but strong businesses are another strong point of Gunsan-type jobs. Myeongshin, Edison Motors, Daechang Motors and Mobile Power System Korea have unrivaled competitive edges in electric cars, buses, trucks and electric carts, respectively.

The local area’s determination to foster new industries combined with Government support and this grand compromise among labor, management, the local government and the private sector will enable Gunsan to stand tall as an electric vehicle mecca.

Fellow Koreans,

The Gunsan-type jobs agreement is more promising than any other as its features are defined by the highest levels of mutual benefit.

Among the mutually beneficial jobs programs, it recruits the greatest number of workers through direct employment, boasts a high percentage of regular workers and adopts an advanced wage system that is tied to the type of work and performance.

A new standard for mutually beneficial agreements has also been proposed. Auto manufacturers and parts suppliers’ relations were laid out to be horizontal, cooperative partnerships, thereby creating the mature contractor-subcontractor relationship that will lead the fair economy and mutually beneficial cooperation. Locally based joint negotiations to set guidelines for standard wages started here for the first time in the country, and an optimal wage system that minimizes pay gaps in workplaces has been put in place. Labor and management agreed to accept arbitrated settlements over the next five years, demonstrating an exemplary case of labor-management cooperation. This is attributed to the two major umbrella labor unions in the region cooperating and showing their capabilities for mutual benefits through concessions.

These Gunsan-type jobs are serving to not only bring employment to the region but also sustain manufacturing jobs.

Auto parts suppliers in Jeollabuk-do and “root industries” – molding, casting, etc. – now have chances to jointly manufacture electric cars with auto manufacturers. Costech Inc., which is taking part in the signing ceremony, has switched its production lines for internal combustion engine parts to be able to manufacture electronic components for electric cars and autonomous vehicles. I hope more parts suppliers transition to future cars, thereby protecting jobs and improving competitiveness.

Fellow Koreans and Gunsan citizens,

The mutually beneficial jobs that began in Gwangju have spread to six different regions in less than one year.

Making the most of each region’s attributes, mutually beneficial jobs are producing positive results for the local economy, jobs and labor-management relations. The extent of the mutual benefits is also improving day by day.

By combining the strengths of these mutually beneficial jobs from different areas, these Gunsan-type jobs have been able to create a more advanced model of mutually beneficial jobs today. Now, all that is left is to create a success story by continuing to cooperate as originally conceived. When a special regulation-free zone is designated and other regulatory reform efforts by Jeollabuk-do are added, the Gunsan and Jeollabuk-do economies will make an even greater leap forward as the center of future cars.

The Government will help local areas through support centers for mutually beneficial regional jobs and provide a better environment for businesses and workers.

Mutually beneficial jobs will further brighten the future of local areas, and we will grow larger together. The Government supports mutually beneficial jobs together with local areas and the people. I hope that the Gunsan-type jobs announced today will spread hope to every nook and cranny of the country.

Thank you.

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