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Night working: return of the graveyard shift
The Economist ^ | 15 September | Economist

Posted on 09/26/2012 11:25:13 PM PDT by Cronos

FOR decades, workers in rich countries have fretted about competition from Asians prepared to work ceaselessly for a pittance. But this week a South Korean carmaker, Kia, agreed not just to boost its workers’ pay but to get rid of night shifts, as the metal workers’ union has long demanded. The country’s largest carmaker, Hyundai, agreed to do the same last month.

The abolition of overnight working in South Korean plants comes just as the opposite is happening in Europe and North America. In August Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) announced the return of night shifts at its plant near Liverpool, to help it cope with strong demand for its luxurious Evoque model. The big three American carmakers, having shut surplus factories as part of the government bail-out during the financial crisis, are enjoying a sharp rebound in sales, and are increasingly working round the clock.

Ron Harbour, a motor-industry expert at Oliver Wyman, a consultancy, says that according to his long-running surveys, only 10-15% of North American car-assembly plants have historically run night shifts, a figure which fell to 9% in 2009—but now 40% are doing so. Even Hyundai and Kia have introduced overnight working at their American plants, even as they are set to end them, supposedly for ever, back home.

..Employees in rich countries accept that night working is better than not working. South Korea’s car workers feel secure enough in their jobs to insist on its abolition. Not so long ago their country was seen as one of those tirelessly hardworking emerging markets to be feared. Now it has got rich, its workers want not only more money but easier hours. How long before they start to worry about being undercut by those fearsomely industrious Brits and Americans?

(Excerpt) Read more at economist.com ...


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Foreign Affairs
KEYWORDS: economics; finance
Japan, S.Korea, Singapore are developed countries. India, China, Indonesia, Malaysia are middle-income countries (as are Brazil and Mexico). As wages rise there, the West will be more competitive
1 posted on 09/26/2012 11:25:18 PM PDT by Cronos
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To: Cronos

This might mean lower quality.

Shutting a line down, and starting it up, are very common times for problems to start. Most plants I have worked in (food/alcohol) work 24/7.


2 posted on 09/27/2012 5:18:58 AM PDT by redgolum ("God is dead" -- Nietzsche. "Nietzsche is dead" -- God.)
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To: redgolum

>This might mean lower quality.

That, and the cost required to keep machinery “hot” and ready to run properly is enormous. Requalifying idle tools takes time too.


3 posted on 09/27/2012 5:27:43 AM PDT by soycd
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To: redgolum; soycd

I would have thought that night shift would have been the time to do maintenance and cleaning of the line. If it’s running 24/7, when does maintenance get done?


4 posted on 09/27/2012 5:31:45 AM PDT by PapaBear3625 (Charlie Daniels - Payback Time http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EWwTJj_nosI)
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To: PapaBear3625

Most 24/7 industries have some kind of preventive maintenance program and save major jobs for Christmas or July 4th shutdowns. Usually there are multiple machines to perform the jobs and one or more can be taken offline to tune it up.

Of course I know nothing of auto manufacturing factories but I’d bet they have some kind of PM to keep things running smoothly until major effort is required.


5 posted on 09/27/2012 5:47:17 AM PDT by soycd
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To: PapaBear3625

CIP and shut down days.

You DON’T want your night guys doing maintenance.


6 posted on 09/27/2012 6:02:55 AM PDT by redgolum ("God is dead" -- Nietzsche. "Nietzsche is dead" -- God.)
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