How much longer will there be no work on Fridays at the Hyundai car plant in Nošovice, how much longer will the launch of the second shift be delayed for, if and how many people will need to be laid off and other cost-saving measures. Those are some of the things that the vice president of Hyundai Motor talked about with the Nošovice plant management when he flew into Ostrava. The results of the meeting were not published before this issue of HN was published. [Translator’s note: The Hyundai plant will produce cars for only two days this week, suspending production as of Wednesday due to sales problems, according to the latest statement by trade union leader Radek Kuchař. The measure will be in place only this week, writes ČTK.]

The number of commissions was one fifth lower than the original plan and because of this Hyundai decreased its production to four days a week. On Friday 9 January the factory halls of Nošovice fell silent for the first time. The production of Hyundai i30, cars of a lower-middle standard, was only launched here last year on 10 November.

The four-day work week is for now planned only for January. On the day that they are not to come to work, workers will receive 68% of their average wages.

Second shift delayed

The company also halted the recruitment of workers for its second shift. Initially it wanted to add another 300 employees to its current workforce of 1,832 by the end of March.

These measures have created an aura of uncertainty in the factory. According to the statements of employees in the media, Hyundai is planning layoffs and has a list of 600 workers, who will need to leave.

“This number has nothing to do with layoffs. This is how many people we recruited for the second shift, which is now being delayed,” said factory spokesman Petr Vaněk.

If the Nošovice plant doesn’t introduce a second shift at all this year, analysts say it could mean that the number of workers who were hired in order to expand production would need to be limited.

But that would mean a drastic reduction of the plant’s development plans and a decrease of the efficiency of the entire investment, which is valued at CZK 24.7 billion. Production would fall to less than half of this year’s expected output of 185,000 automobiles.

The factory has the capacity to produce 200,000 cars a year. Following the planned expansion by 2010 the plant would be producing 300,000 cars a year.

The company is trying to prevent a catastrophic scenario by expanding the number of models produced, which should help increase demand on the European market.

“We are speeding up the preparation for the production of two other models, a combi version of Hyundai i30 and the multi-purpose vehicle YN. The manufacture of these cars was initially planned for later this year.

Spokesman denies the company plans layoffs

“Each month, 50 to 70 people leave the company. About half of them leave of their own volition, and the other half leaves because we aren’t satisfied. It could be because of absenteeism or low productivity. We even had a case where an employee stole goods off the shelves of the company canteen. He was fired immediately. Another worker, who arrived to work one hour late and under the influence of alcohol, was also fired,” said Vaněk.

The Nošovice plant’s decreased production also means decreased production for its suppliers Hysco, Dymos and CZ Daebo.

But Hyundai doesn’t have a problem just when it comes to car sales in the Czech Republic. Its Korea-based plants saw a decrease in demand the first quarter of this year from 25% to 30%.

Škoda Auto is also facing difficulties on the Czech market. The TPCA plant in Kolín is for now not planning any decreases in production or layoffs.