Hyundai Motor union continues strikes, talks

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Hyundai Motor union continues strikes, talks

A series of partial strikes by the labor union of Hyundai Motor has continued into its third week, as negotiations between workers and management on the company’s wage and incentives system are ongoing.

The strikes have occurred for three days each week in a two-shift system, with the first shift of workers walking out for four hours in the morning and a second night shift striking for four hours. The labor union did a partial walkout this week on Monday and Tuesday and plans to carry out a similar strike today.

Even as the walkouts were happening, Park Yoo-ki, head of the labor union, and Yoon Gap-han, president of Hyundai Motor, held another round of wage negotiations, the 19th so far, according to the company, at their factory in Ulsan on Tuesday. Another round is scheduled for today.

“If this week’s negotiations turn out to be another failure, we’ll go on a protracted war,” the labor union said in a statement on Tuesday.

During the 18th round of negotiations last Thursday, the company introduced a revision to its peak wage system, which delays retirement in return for lower wages in the final years of employment.

Hyundai Motor wants to cut the wages of workers aged 59 and 60 by 10 percent, but the labor union rejected the change, arguing that the current system of a wage freeze for 59-year-olds and 10 percent pay cut for 60-year-olds was enough.

“We’ve suggested the company needs to extend the retirement age if it wants to expand implementation of the peak wage system [to broaden wage cuts for older workers], but the company refused take our offer,” a labor union spokesperson said.

“While some other companies extended the retirement age to 60 as they implemented the peak wage system, we had already extended the age to 60 even before,” a Hyundai Motor spokesman said. “But we are finding common ground with the labor union through our latest talks.”

According to company estimates, the series of strikes held by the labor union since last month has delayed the production of some 62,000 cars, costing the company about 1.4 trillion won ($1.3 billion) in revenue.

Hyundai Motor is also in a pinch ahead of the upcoming Chuseok holiday, known as Korean Thanksgiving, in September. The company was supposed to supply new premium express buses to the Express Bus Line Association to accommodate surging travel demand during the holiday.

However, the automaker reported to the association Monday night that production has been delayed due to the labor union strikes.


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