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South Korean auto, shipbuilder workers set to hold strike this week

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
This file photo shows Hyundai Heavy Industries’ union members taking to the streets for five hours to protest against the management’s payment plan at the company’s headquarters.

Tens of thousands of workers are scheduled to hold a partial strike this week in South Korea, after months-long negotiations failed to meet their demand for a bigger wage rise and bonuses.

Workers at Hyundai Motor are set to walk off the job for at least four hours a day from Tuesday to Friday, a labor union spokesman said on Monday.

Almost 75 percent of the shipyard workers voted last week for the stoppages to demand higher wages and to oppose the company’s restructuring plans in particular the job layoffs.

Employees of Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) would also walk off the job for at least four hours a day on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.

South Korea’s Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) is the world's largest shipbuilder by sales (file photo)

Some 60 percent of the 15,000 unionized workers approved the walkout to demand higher wages and to oppose the company’s restructuring plans in particular the job layoffs.

The world's largest shipbuilder and the labor union have held several rounds of talks since May, but they have failed to reach an agreement.

Workers at another shipbuilder, Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI) launched a partial strike last week. The firm intends to shed 1,500 positions this year, and to cut head count by 40 percent by the end of 2018. 

Employees at Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) also voted to launch a strike at a yet to be specified date. The firm along with Hyundai Heavy Industries have dominated the global market for past decades.

South Korean President Park Geun-Hye formerly backed layoffs as part of intense restructuring efforts which would help restore financial stability among heavily-indebted shipbuilders.


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