Workers in the Hyundai Motor union vote to strike

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Workers in the Hyundai Motor union vote to strike

Hyundai Motor’s labor union voted to strike after 16 rounds of failed wage negotiations, getting a step closer to walking off the job yet again for the eighth consecutive year.

According to the union Tuesday, 70.54 percent of its 50,293 union members voted to go on strike. Among those who actually participated in the voting held on Monday and Tuesday, 84.06 percent agreed to walk out.

The union will be allowed to strike if the National Labor Relations Commission decides today not to intervene. The union asked the commission last week for mediation as a formal process for the walkout.

Hyundai Motor’s union has negotiated wages with management in 16 rounds since May 30 but failed to come to consensus. The labor union is asking the company to raise monthly base pay by 123,526 won ($104) for all pay grades, and pay out 30 percent of the automaker’s net profit as bonuses.

The more controversial request by the union is to consider bonuses as regular pay, which would have the effect of increasing overtime and severance pay. It is also asking that the retirement age be extended to 64 from the current 60.

The company says that with its focus on new businesses and electric cars, those demands are impossible. The company maintains it doesn’t need to include bonuses in regular pay as it won in two lawsuits on that issue.

If workers walk out, production of Hyundai’s family sports-utility vehicle (SUV) Palisade could be most affected.

While Hyundai has enough inventory for most of its models, it has been short of supplies of the popular Palisade. It takes roughly seven to eight months to get delivery of a Palisade after ordering one, according to a spokesperson for Hyundai Motor.

The company and union recently agreed to increase production of Palisade by starting an additional production line for it. Construction is scheduled to be finished in September. Stable production would depend on how long it takes for the union and management to close the wage deal and how much industrial action the union decides to take before the deal closes.

Hyundai-affiliated Kia Motors is also facing rocky wage negotiations.

According to Kia’s labor union, 73.6 percent of its 29,545 union members endorsed a strike in a vote Tuesday. The voting came after 10 rounds of failed talks since June 13.

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

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