Hyundai workers prepare to strike amid weak sales

David Chon, July 13, 2017, 9:41 a.m.


Unionized workers at Hyundai Motor Co. will vote on whether to stage a walkout as they press for more wages and benefits, the company and its union said Thursday.

The two-day vote comes as the country's largest carmaker by sales struggles with slowing sales in major markets such as China and the United States.

Members of Hyundai's 51,000-strong union will cast their votes by 1 p.m. Friday, with the results to be made available at 8-9 p.m.

"We will stage a strike if ongoing negotiations with management break down," the carmaker's union spokesman Jang Chang-yeal told Yonhap News Agency by phone.

The labor union is demanding the company raise workers' monthly basic wages by 154,883 won (US$136) and offer a bonus of 30 percent of the company's full-year net profit earned in 2016, the company said.

Hyundai has suffered production losses resulting from strikes during wage negotiations since 2000, except for the years of 2009, 2010, and 2011, a company spokesman said.

In the January-June period, Hyundai sold a combined 2.198 million autos, down 8.2 percent from 2.394 million during the same period last year.

In this photo taken on June 13, 2016, Hyundai workers at the carmaker's Ulsan plant chant a slogan demanding higher wages and bonuses in this year's wage negotiations. (Yonhap)

Union workers at its sister company Kia Motors Corp. are in the process of staging a vote to decide on stating a strike after negotiations with management were halted, he said.

Kia workers also want an increase of 154,883 won in monthly salary and demand 30 percent of the company's operating profit earned last year.

Meanwhile, workers at GM Korea Co., the South Korean unit of General Motors Co., on Friday voted to hold a strike if wage talks go nowhere. SsangYong Motors Co. and Renault Samsung Motors Corp. are in talks with their unions over wages, the companies said.

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