The news out of Seoul, Korea, is reporting that Hyundai Motor Co.’s labor union in the country will be voting to decide whether to strike or not after the two sides failed to reach a deal on wages and benefits.
A union spokesman, Kwon Oh-il told Reuters union members at the automaker’s largest production base plan to conduct a vote on Aug. 13 on whether or not to conduct a strike feeling there was very little progress in the wage negotiations which have gone on for the past two months.
“We declare the collapse of talks because there is little progress despite 18 rounds of negotiations since May 28,” he said.
The strike would be the second in a year. Last year the union held a series of partial strikes during July and August over pay and conditions at the plant. The previous strike was the first in four years and the partial strike cost Hyundai $1.7 trillion won ($1.5 billion) due to lost production of vehicles making it the costliest strike ever for the auto company.
This year the union is demanding a large bonus equivalent to eight months’ salary in addition to a salary increase. The union is also demanding that any employee who works for the company for 40 years receive 56.25 grams of gold and a bonus of two months’ salary and calls on the company to forgo seeking legal punishment for members engaged in “union activities.”
We are sorry that the union walked out of talks even before we narrow differences on their extensive demands. We doubt whether the union is sincere about talks,” a company spokesman said, urging union negotiators to return to the negotiation table.
Tensions between the company and union members have been simmering for some time. Last month a clash between workers and management resulted in 82 employees being hurt.
The clash occurred during a three hour long dispute on Saturday between activists from the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions and Hyundai security guards and managers. The KCTU, an umbrella group of labor unions, reported on its web site that they caused around 2.2 billion Won (approx. $2 million US) in damage to the plant and 100 people were either injured or wounded.
Members of the KCTU attempted to use force in an attempt to enter the plant in Ulsan. In their efforts to gain entry the activists threw bamboo sticks and stones at security personnel for Hyundai, who in turn used fire hoses in an attempt to keep the protestors at bay.
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