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Workers at South Korea’s Daewoo Motor Co. said Thursday that their talks with the company’s management and with Detroit’s General Motors Corp. regarding terms for a planned acquisition of Daewoo by the U.S. carmaker had stalled, and that there would probably be no agreement soon. The union’s opposition means GM’s takeover of bankrupt Daewoo Motor could be delayed for months, as the union, under a collective bargaining agreement, must approve any major asset sale. Labor spokesman Jong Hak Choi said Thursday the union had its first meeting of the year on Wednesday with Daewoo management and “absolutely nothing has changed.” GM Korea President Alan Perriton has said improved labor relations is a key to a successful deal, and GM executives attending the annual Detroit auto show have called on the union to resolve the negotiations reasonably. Jerry Dubrowkli, a spokesman for GM in New York, would not comment Thursday on the union opposition, but added the company is continuing due diligence. “Obviously, we’d like [a deal] done sooner rather than later,” he said. “We remain committed,” he said. Daewoo and GM had hoped that a final agreement would be reached before the end of last year, and now the parties are pushing for a binding contract to be signed by February. In September, the parties signed a memorandum of understanding under which GM would pay $400 million for four Daewoo manufacturing plants and 22 overseas sales subsidiaries. Choi said that February is probably too optimistic a deadline for completion of the deal because neither Daewoo management nor GM has come close to meeting union requests. “GM is not in a position to name a specific date for the final agreement because there are still a lot of sensitive problems that have to be dealt with first,” Choi said. One of the union’s demands is job guarantees, which GM is unwilling to offer. Choi said the union believes that without job guarantees, there will be layoffs at Daewoo because of the economic downturn. “If we do what GM wants, then we will lose our jobs,” Choi said. “How will we survive? And when the economy gets better, GM will just hire other, new people and we’ll still be left without jobs.” In February, union protests turned violent after 1,700 workers at the Bupyong factory in South Korea were laid off. The Bupyong factory has not been included in the deal, but will remain in operation for six years while GM decides whether it wants to purchase the facility. The union also wants GM to include in a final contract a detailed plan for how to make the Bupyong plant economically viable so GM would purchase it after the six years. Workers are also asking GM to include its current collective bargaining agreement in a final contract. The bargaining agreement gives the union input into the management of Daewoo Motor, which GM had been hoping to scale back. Choi accused GM of trying to decrease workers’ rights and said the auto giant has been unwilling to listen to union requests. He added that labor is willing to compromise, but it must be a “give and take.” “GM is trying to take us back 10 years,” he said. “We want to have a good relationship with GM but they don’t seem to want that.” Katie Anderson in New York contributed to this report. Copyright (c)2002 TDD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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