Parties urge emergency job security measures for Gunsan following GM’s shutdown decision

SEOUL, -- Opposition parties urged the government Wednesday to designate the southwestern city of Gunsan an "employment disaster zone," as thousands are expected to lose their jobs following General Motors' decision to shut down an assembly plant in the port city.

GM said Tuesday it will close its Gunsan plant, one of its four car assembly plants in South Korea, by the end of May due to lower demand for its vehicles. The move came as part of the Detroit-based automaker's broad restructuring program across the world.

"Close to 10,000 workers are supposed to be forced out on to the cold streets due to GM Korea's shutdown of the Gunsan plant, and Gunsan's economy appears to be facing bankrupcy," Rep. Park Joo-sun, a co-leader of the newly created minor opposition Bareun Future Party, said during a meeting of the party's supreme council.

"President Moon Jae-in should declare Gunsan a special employment disaster zone and provide it with administrative, fiscal and financial support in a swift manner," he said.

The party's other co-leader, Rep. Yoo Seong-min, also called for disaster zone designation, saying the finance ministry and other agencies should look into the issue.

Rep. Cho Bae-sook, head of the minor opposition Party for Democracy and Peace, said that the economy of Gunsan and North Jeolla Province is being devastated and that the government should immediately designate the city a disaster zone.

The ruling Democratic Party also called for support measures for the city, though it stopped short of demanding disaster zone designation.

"Gunsan citizens must have been shocked greatly," said Rep. Woo Won-shik, floor leader of the party. "Active and swift government measures are needed to lay to rest concern about the regional economy. The ruling party will form a task force and try its best to provide support."

The main opposition Liberty Korea Party also urged the government to draw up measures to support workers at GM's Gunsan plant and the regional economy.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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