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Contract worker unrest hits automaker Kia's production; losses mount

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SEOUL, South Korea (AP) _ Angry employees of subcontractors for Kia Motors occupied an assembly plant paint shop for a fourth day Tuesday as production losses mounted, the automaker said.

The unrest caused Kia to lose production of 4,500 vehicles valued at 63 billion Korean won (US$67 million) through Monday, said Kia spokesman Kim Jeong-ho.

About 100 workers from approximately 20 of Kia's subcontractors have been occupying a paint shop used for two assembly lines at the carmaker's main Hwaseong plant since Thursday, Kim said.

They are demanding that their companies hike wages to the same level as Kia workers and pay a special bonus equivalent to seven months' salary, he said.

``We continued to urge the occupying workers to leave the highly inflammable paint shop and have already filed a complaint with a Seoul court against 62 workers from our suppliers,'' Kim said.

Kia is 38.6-per cent owned by Hyundai Motor, the world's sixth-largest automaker.

The Hwaseong plant, south of Seoul, accounts for 42 per cent of Kia's total output. Vehicles manufactured there include the Sorento sport utility vehicle.

Kia said Monday that production had partially resumed.

The subcontractors mainly manufacture auto parts for Kia or provide packaging services for the carmaker's assembly kits, Kim said.

The unrest came as union workers at Kia earlier this month accepted a 5.2 per cent wage hike in base salary for this year after staging partial strikes over several weeks.

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Contract worker unrest hits automaker Kia's production; losses mount
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