SHI workers’ group proposes a wage freeze to save jobs

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SHI workers’ group proposes a wage freeze to save jobs

The workers’ committee of Samsung Heavy Industries has put forward a wage-freeze proposal in a bid to secure jobs, while unions at other troubled shipbuilders are aggressively opposing restructuring measures.

The committee announced on Tuesday that it had handed the plan to the company on May 4. It is the first time the committee has proposed a wage freeze before the company has taken action.

The committee represents about 6,000 workers from 14,000 employees of Samsung Heavy Industries. It is different from a labor union in that it is backed financially by the company and is not supported by payments from individual workers.

The company said it serves a similar role as a union and has been the main negotiator for many issues between workers and management at the company.

While a labor union exists at the company, it is not recognized by management.

An official meeting of the workers’ committee and the company is expected to take place around the end of this month or in June.

Other demands by the committee include extending maternity leave to three years, a productivity incentive and the normalization of a wage structure among partnering companies.

Samsung Heavy Industries had no shipbuilding orders this year, and as the situation drags on, the workers’ committee is joining efforts to persuade shipowners to place new orders.

The labor union of Hyundai Heavy Industries is taking a different approach amid serious difficulties in the industry. The members have even been mocked for demanding a wage increase.

Hyundai Heavy Industries CEO Kwon Oh-gap visited its Ulsan plant on Tuesday to meet the labor union himself and start negotiations.

But the negotiations didn’t go far, as the labor union maintained their demands, including a 96,712 won ($82) wage increase (5.09 percent of base pay), 250 percent bonus, abolition of a performance-based wage system and the right to recommend a non-executive board director for the company.

“We are facing a situation where our dockyard could soon be emptied, and we hope the labor union could also be more understanding of the situation,” a spokesman from Hyundai Heavy Industries said.

Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering’s management is also in negotiations with its labor union. Union members have already proposed stronger measures against the company’s downsizing. “We cannot take the government passing on their responsibility to the laborers,” the labor union of Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering said.

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