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Hyundai Motor labor union votes in favor of strike

Hyundai Motor labor union votes in favor of strike

Hyundai Motor Co. said Saturday its labor union has voted in favor of going on strike amid annual wage negotiations.
According to an e-mail from the automaker, 28,243 union members voted in favor of the strike, while 12,544 opposed it. It was not immediately clear, however, when a walkout might begin.
Strikes at Hyundai are common. Workers have already walked off the job twice this year. The union has gone on strike every year but one since it was founded in 1987.
This year's tensions come at a sensitive time. A Seoul court will issue a ruling on an appeal by Hyundai Motor Chairman Chung Mong-koo on Sept. 6 against his three-year prison term for embezzlement.
Chung, who is free on bail, is actively running the world's sixth-largest automaker. He was sentenced earlier this year.
The union and management remain far apart despite 10 formal negotiating sessions so far.
The company has offered a 5.4 percent increase, or 78,000 won (US$83; euro61) more a month in basic salary, while the union is seeking an 8.9 percent hike.
Hyundai has also offered an incentive of three months of pay and a bonus of 1 million won (US$1,066; euro781) if the company meets annual business targets.
The union wants the automaker to pay 30 percent of its 2007 net profit to union members as bonuses and to raise the retirement age to 60 from 58.
Hyundai spokesman Ki Jin-ho said Saturday the company hopes to meet with the union Monday for further discussions.
Yonhap news agency, citing a so-called "cooling off period," reported the union could not legally begin the strike before Sept. 4.
Union head Lee Sang-wook exhorted members Friday to vote in favor of the strike.
"I hope you can express your steadfast will to fight," he told members in a statement posted on the union's Web site. "Let's express our rage with an unanimous landslide vote against the company that has cheated more than 44,000 union members."
According to the Hyundai e-mail, 40,995 union members, or 91.4 percent of the total membership of 44,867, cast ballots.