Some interesting facts about night shift working in car manufacturing has emerged. In North America, for many years only 10-15% of car plants had a night shift, and by 2009 it was as low as 9%. Today in 2012 40% are doing so. In Europe it was more normal to have a night shift, with 50% of plants running them, but this also fell during the 2000s down to 29% in 2006. But this too has gone back up around 35% now. And finally, in South Korea it was normal practice for workers in Kia and Hyundai to work a night shift, until this year, when both manufacturers have agreed to end them.
These trends demonstrate that employees have significant bargaining power when it comes to deciding when to work or not. In simple economic terms, most manufacturers would want to optimise the use of their plant and machinary, so running them 24 hours a day makes sense. However, under strong economic conditions, when there are high work and living standards, workers can be extremely reluctant to work unsocial hours. This is why Amercian workers in the past, and Korean workers now, have negotiated little or no night working. It is currently on the increase in the USA because in these tough times ‘unproductive plants ‘have been closed. And in Europe it is a mixed picture, with some manufacturers having strong demand, such as JLR and BMW, but others not.
Source: The Economist