Pay talks fail; Hyundai Motor strike continues

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Pay talks fail; Hyundai Motor strike continues

The 14th round of wage negotiations between Hyundai Motor and its labor union held Thursday failed, and a strike by workers will continue.

Management and the union had hoped to settle the labor dispute before the approaching holiday season, which begins next month.

The negotiation, which began at 2 p.m. at the auto company’s Ulsan headquarters, was attended by Hyundai Motor President Yoon Gap-han and labor union leader Park Yoo-ki. After a couple of hours, talks broke down.

“The company didn’t come up with any resolutions catering to our demands and it was a fruitless negotiation,” a spokesperson from the union said.

The union had been asking for responses to demands including a 7.2 percent or 152,050 won ($133) raise in workers’ base pay, bonuses equal to 30 percent of last year’s net profit and a right to veto promotions.

The company rejected those demands and demanded implementation of the so-called peak-wage system on a wider range of workers. The system would freeze wages of workers aged 59 and cut wages 10 percent for those 60 or older. In return, workers would be able to work for more years before being retired than previously.

“I think media outlets are expecting the talks to come to a conclusion before the holidays but considering the current situation, that is not likely,” the spokesperson from the union added.

After the last negotiation failed on July 5, the union began a four-day strike from Tuesday, starting with a four hour walkout at the Ulsan plant, two hours each in the morning and night shifts.

That was followed by another four-hour walkout of roughly 15,000 workers on Wednesday’s morning shift while the night shift worked normal hours.

Even as the negotiations were taking place, the union went on with its planned strike scheduled for Thursday. About 13,000 workers on the night shift halted work for four hours from 8:20 p.m., in conjunction with a protest in front of the automaker’s Ulsan headquarters.

The company estimates four hours of halted operations affects production of 17,000 cars resulting in a roughly 39 billion won loss for the company per day. Three days of strikes could amount to 117 billion won in losses, though the union called those estimates “excessive.”

Today, another strike will take place with some 5,500 union members heading for a protest in front of Hyundai Motor Group’s Yangjae headquarters in Seocho District, southern Seoul.

BY KIM JEE-HEE [kim.jeehee@joongang.co.kr]

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