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Hyundai Motor labor union to keep negotiating despite strike vote

Hyundai Motor labor union to keep negotiating despite strike vote

Unionized workers at Hyundai Motor Co. will negotiate further with management over a new wage package despite approving a resolution to go on strike, a union spokesman said Saturday.
"We decided not to go on strike until Sept. 5 ... to try to resolve the dispute smoothly," said Chang Kyu-ho, spokesman for the union, which has 44,867 members.
Results of a union vote released earlier in the day showed that 28,243 members supported a walkout, while 12,544 opposed it. A total of 40,995 union members, or 91.4 percent of the total membership cast ballots. Some votes were declared invalid.
Hyundai, the world's sixth-largest automaker, and the union have been unable to reach an agreement on a new pay deal despite 10 formal negotiating sessions.
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) per unionized worker 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.
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 Hyundai. He was sentenced earlier this year.
The union's Chang said negotiations will resume Monday. Hyundai had earlier proposed an 11th session for that day.
"We promised to our unionists that we will do our best for a smooth resolution," Chang said, though warned that a strike would be unavoidable if management fails to offer "a proposal unacceptable to us."
Negotiations take place in Ulsan, the industrial and port city 415 kilometers (260 miles) southeast of Seoul where Hyundai's main factory is located.
Lee Sang-wook, the head of the union, had exhorted members to vote in favor of the strike.
"I hope you can express your steadfast will to fight," he told members in a statement Friday. "Let's express our rage with an unanimous landslide vote against the company that has cheated more than 44,000 union members."
Last year was Hyundai's worst ever in terms of labor unrest.
A total of four walkouts cost the automaker 118,293 vehicles in lost production worth 1.64 trillion won (US$1.75 billion; euro1.3 billion), according to company figures.
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Associated Press Writer Jae-soon Chang in Seoul contributed to this report.


Updated : 2021-05-07 17:52 GMT+08:00