Industryweek 7802 Hyundai Shipyard Union Stages First Strike 18 Years

Hyundai Shipyard Union Stages First Strike in 18 Years

Nov. 21, 2014
Unionized workers at South Korea's Hyundai Heavy Industries stage a walkout as the world's largest shipbuilder reels from a protracted business slump.

SEOUL, South Korea — Unionized workers at South Korea's Hyundai Heavy Industries (IW 1000/86) staged their first walkout in 18 years Thursday as the world's largest shipbuilder reels from a protracted business slump.

The shipyard's union said thousands walked out from a scheduled one hour of extra work after their regular eight-hour shift over pay. The union also warned that it would consider an all-out strike unless its demands are met.

"After today's walkout, we will step up our action and may launch a strike involving all our members if the company continues to reject our demands," said Park Kyung-Soo, a union leader.

Hyundai Heavy Industries, which has not suffered any strike action since 1996, estimated that an all-out strike would cost it more that $90 million in production losses.

About 18,000 union members, or 70% of the company's total workforce, backed a motion to strike last month after months of marathon pay negotiations with management broke down.

Union demands include a 6.5% rise in basic pay and a one-off bonus equal to 10 weeks' wages. It also opposes a new incentive-based annual salary system put forward by the company instead of salaries based on seniority.

The company argues this is too much at a time when it is already facing mounting losses due to the global economic slowdown and competition from Chinese rivals.

The shipbuilder posted a 1.9 trillion won ($1.7 billion) operating loss in the quarter ended Sept. 30, following a 1.1 trillion won deficit in the previous quarter.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2014

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