Government Warns Of Action Against Hyundai Workers

Police acquire warrants to arrest union leaders.

South Korea's labor minister threatened Jan. 16 to take stern action to end a strike by Hyundai Motor workers as police acquired warrants to arrest six union leaders. "The government has warned repeatedly that illegal strikes will be sternly dealt with according to the law. Now its time to translate its warnings into action," Labor Minister Lee Sang-Soo said before the warrants were issued.

A court issued arrest warrants for six leaders of Hyundai Motor's 43,000-member union, which started a partial strike Jan. 15 to press for payment of a disputed bonus.

The labor ministry described the walkout as illegal, saying the union did not go through a mandatory vote on the strike action nor take up government mediation. Hyundai Motor Co., South Korea's leading automaker, plans to hold a working-level meeting later Jan. 16 with the union over the dispute, company officials said. Union leader Park Yu-Ki said the union agreed to resume dialogue with management.

The dispute began last month when the company cut year-end bonus payments by a third because of a missed production target in 2006. The union demands full payment. Management and the union have sued each other over the dispute, with the automaker initially claiming one-million-dollar damages for business losses.

The union has refused overtime work since December 28, causing production losses of nearly 18,000 cars and dealing a blow to the company's drive to become a top global auto player. Hyundai Motor accounts for 4.6% of the country's exports and 40% of autos shipped abroad. It, together with its sister firm Kia Motors, controls 70% of the country's car market.

The company has suffered from industrial action almost every year since its union was launched in 1987.

Hyundai Motor produced 1.62 million vehicles last year, 8% below target, which the company blamed on a series of strikes.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007

South Korea's labor minister threatened Jan. 16 to take stern action to end a strike by Hyundai Motor workers as police acquired warrants to arrest six union leaders. "The government has warned repeatedly that illegal strikes will be sternly dealt with according to the law. Now its time to translate its warnings into action," Labor Minister Lee Sang-Soo said before the warrants were issued.

A court issued arrest warrants for six leaders of Hyundai Motor's 43,000-member union, which started a partial strike Jan. 15 to press for payment of a disputed bonus.

The labor ministry described the walkout as illegal, saying the union did not go through a mandatory vote on the strike action nor take up government mediation. Hyundai Motor Co., South Korea's leading automaker, plans to hold a working-level meeting later Jan. 16 with the union over the dispute, company officials said. Union leader Park Yu-Ki said the union agreed to resume dialogue with management.

The dispute began last month when the company cut year-end bonus payments by a third because of a missed production target in 2006. The union demands full payment. Management and the union have sued each other over the dispute, with the automaker initially claiming one-million-dollar damages for business losses.

The union has refused overtime work since December 28, causing production losses of nearly 18,000 cars and dealing a blow to the company's drive to become a top global auto player. Hyundai Motor accounts for 4.6% of the country's exports and 40% of autos shipped abroad. It, together with its sister firm Kia Motors, controls 70% of the country's car market.

The company has suffered from industrial action almost every year since its union was launched in 1987.

Hyundai Motor produced 1.62 million vehicles last year, 8% below target, which the company blamed on a series of strikes.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007

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