On 1 March 2016 around 100 Chinese Hankook tyre workers protested against the decision to move to a three-shift rather than a four-shift working pattern. However while some sources described this as strike action, Hankook representatives denied these claims and said production has not been affected.
Hankook operates three manufacturing plants in China in the cities of Jiangsu, Jiaxing and Chongqing. Chongqing, the latest to be opened, began production in February 2013, with annual output at the site is scheduled to grow to 10 million passenger and 1.6 million truck and bus tyres per annum by the end of 2015 at this site alone.
According to local sources, the workers’ action was related to Hankook’s decision to lay off 300 workers at the firm’s Jiangsu factory, which has also reduced from four shifts to three. Hankook confirmed the broad details of the account but not the lay-offs in answer to questions from Tyres & Accessories, saying: “On 1 March approximately less than 100 workers at our Hankook Tire Jiaxing factory gathered at the site, probably because they were not satisfied with the three-shift scheduling system.”
Hankook added that it has been operating a three-shift system in its Huai’an, Jiangsu and Zhejiang, Jiaxing factories since October 2015 “in order to enhance our operational efficiency”. The Korean-based tyre manufacturer also operates a “three shift” system at its European plant in Hungary, something the firm has done since the start of regular production.
Moving forward, Hankook said the firm “is currently actively looking through the matter, listening to the voices of the employees.”