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South Korea Samsung Union Initiates ‘Indefinite’ Strike Over Labour Disputes

by Rahil M
0 comment

The union said that the Samsung management was “obstructing” the strike because they seemed unwilling to have a conversation.

In an attempt to pressure management into talks, a union that represents tens of thousands of employees at Samsung Electronics in South Korea said on Wednesday that it will prolong a three-day strike indefinitely.

The National Samsung Electronics Union released a statement saying, “(We) declare a second indefinite general strike from July 10 after learning that the management has no willingness to talk.”

As part of an ongoing dispute over compensation and benefits, over 5,000 members began a three-day walkout on Monday.

The action comes after a one-day walkout in June that was the company’s first collective action after decades without unionization.

Over 30,000 workers, or more than 5% of the company’s entire workforce, are members of the union.

According to the Yonhap news agency, Samsung stated on Tuesday that there had been no production disruption, despite the union’s claims that the strike was having a significant effect.

The union said in a statement declaring the indefinite strike, “We have confirmed the clear disruption in production, and the management will regret this choice.”

“The management will suffer more the longer the strike continues, and eventually they will bow out and go to the negotiating table. We are sure we’ll win.”

The union said that the Samsung management was “obstructing” the strike because they seemed unwilling to have a conversation.

It called on “those who are still hesitant” within the workforce to join in.

“Your tenacity is essential to achieving our objectives and winning. Together, let’s stand up for our rights and build a brighter future.”

Samsung promised to comment at a later time.

Since January, the union and management have been unable to resolve their disputes through negotiations.

The union had previously stated requests, including enhancements to annual leave and transparent performance-based bonuses, but workers had rejected the offer of a 5.1 per cent wage increase.

In observance of the union’s founding day, members are requesting a day off and a 3.5% boost in base pay. Lee, the union leader, stated that although the union is arguing for an additional 0.5% to account for inflation, management has previously proposed a 3% increase in base pay.

Though some opponents claim the company used harsh tactics, Samsung Electronics was able to prevent employee unionization for nearly 50 years while growing to become the top smartphone and semiconductor maker in the world.

The company’s founder, Lee Byung-chul, declared he would never allow unions “until I have dirt over my eyes” and died in 1987.

In the latter part of the 2010s, Samsung Electronics’ first labour union was established.

In the fifty years that the South Korean company has existed, this is the biggest organized labour movement. Although the exact number of people who will answer the union’s call is unknown, there is worry that the move could have a domino effect and harm the nation’s most-well known company or spark similar reactions throughout the rebounding tech and chip industries.

The company is the flagship division of the massive South Korean conglomerate Samsung Group, which is by far the biggest of the family-run businesses that rule the fourth-largest economy in Asia.

It is the biggest memory chip manufacturer in the world and produces a sizable portion of the high-end chips produced worldwide.

Thanks to the rising demand for generative AI, Samsung has forecasted a more than 15-fold increase in its on-year second-quarter operating profitability.

The strike coincides with a new surge of union action at large IT companies that have been embroiled in heated labour disputes. The disputes center on working conditions.

This included Amazon, whose workers began casting ballots in a “historic” trade union recognition election at its Coventry warehouse in the United Kingdom. The results of the vote might allow Amazon employees in Britain to bargain collectively for rights and compensation for the first time.

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