Korean peninsula

Hyundai labour union to strike for 4 hours

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 August, 2013, 4:56pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 20 August, 2013, 5:14pm

Hyundai’s labour union said 46,000 workers will stage a four-hour strike over two days this week as the union increases pressure on the automaker for higher wages and benefits.

Union spokesman Kwon Oh-il said Tuesday that talks with Hyundai Motor Company management had made little progress.

The union demanded increased wages and benefits during three months of annual negotiations. But the talks collapsed, and the union voted to strike for a second time in two years.

Labor strife has dragged down earnings at Hyundai and its Kia affiliate after unions elected hard-line leaders. Earlier this year, Hyundai workers refused to work overtime for three weeks. That resulted in lost output of 83,000 vehicles worth US$1.5 billion, according to the company. In last year, the maker of the Elantra and Santa Fe estimated it lost production of 82,000 vehicles worth 1.7 trillion won due to 92 hours of walkouts.

Another round of talks with Hyundai Motor Co. management is scheduled for Thursday. Kwon said there is almost no chance of a breakthrough.

Hyundai estimated it would lose production of about 2,100 vehicles worth US$39 million from the union’s four hour strike and refusal to work overtime.

The union wants workers to get improved benefits, including US$8,900 support to help children of unionized workers seek jobs if they don’t go to college, a US$116 increase in monthly base income, bigger bonuses and full reimbursement of medical expenses if workers are diagnosed with cancer.

Hyundai said last week that many of the union’s demands were hard to accept.

The labour union at Kia Motors Corp. is planning similar industrial action. Kia workers will determine how many hours they will walk out later Tuesday.