Hyundai talks go on as strike ratified

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Hyundai talks go on as strike ratified

Hyundai Motor resumed contract negotiations with its unionized workers on Thursday, a day after workers voted in favor of going on strike.

The two sides, including company President and CEO Yoon Gap-han and union leader Lee Kyung-hoon, met at the company’s Ulsan plant in South Gyeongsang at 2 p.m.

Sources said Yoon proposed a new offer over the wage issue, but the details were not revealed by press time. It was the 23rd round of negotiations between the two sides and the first in 14 days since the union declared a breakdown in talks on Aug. 27.

Since negotiations stalled, the union asked its 48,585 members to take a strike vote on Wednesday night. Of the 33,887 members who took part in the vote, 77.94 percent voted in favor of going on strike. Unionized workers at the nation’s largest automaker have never voted down a strike call.

In this year’s wage negotiation, the union demanded the company raise the base monthly pay by 159,900 won ($134), a 7.84 percent rise from a year ago. They also want the company to use 30 percent of its net profit for worker bonuses and to extend the retirement age from 58 to 65.

The big question is whether the Hyundai CEO, who wants to wrap up this painful negotiation before the Chuseok (Korean harvest) holiday on Sept. 27, can satisfy workers’

“We don’t have much time until the holiday season,” Yoon said. “There are many issues we need to discuss, including the peak wage system issue, but I want to ask the labor union to resolve the problems as soon as possible peacefully.”

Meanwhile, about 400 union members of Hyundai Steel and Hyundai Hysco, other affiliates of Hyundai Motor Group, gathered at the main gate of the group’s headquarters in Yangjae-dong, southern Seoul, on Thursday to stage a rally calling for management to take negotiations more seriously.

The company blocked the main entrance gate with buses, while workers occupied a lane of the road stretching to the company. The union is demanding the company raise monthly base pay by 159,000 won.

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