Samsung Electronics labor union threatens to stage first-ever walkout

Unions of South Korean technology titan Samsung Electronics have said they may go on strike for the first time in more than 50 years as their call for pay raises and special summer vacations in the first-ever wage talks went unheeded.

Protesters, representing four unions of more than 5,000 employees, said Wednesday they would work to save wage talks with Samsung’s leadership, with a way out – possibly with other unions in Samsung’s affiliates – would be their last resort. Samsung has more than 110,000 employees.

“Leaving is one of our means to continue our calls,” Lee Hyun Cook, a Samsung employee and union member, said during a news conference near Samsung’s Seocho-gu office in Seoul.

“Today in the afternoon we will start discussing possible options for wage negotiations, and there may be a strike if we have no other option.”

The remark was made after the arbitration of the trade union with the management of the state institution of the National Commission for Labor Relations failed earlier this week. This gave the unions the right to absenteeism.

Samsung’s unions have filed for arbitration on February 4 following more than a dozen rounds of talks between unions and management since October.

The unions during the arbitration called on the company to introduce a total base salary increase of 10 million won ($ 8,350) for each employee this year to reduce the pay gap between employees and prevent excessive competition.

They also urged the company to calculate employee incentives with greater transparency. Samsung is adopting a plan to promote economic added value, and the union has argued that the system is causing non-transparency in employee appraisals and a wider pay gap between employees. This is also compared to domestic chip competitor SK hynix, which recorded an overall stimulus of up to 10 percent of annual operating profit a year earlier.

The unions also called on management to abandon the controversial “comprehensive pay system”, which included general overtime pay in the employee’s basic salary as well as the “peak pay system”, implying a gradual reduction in staff salaries to a certain level. level. age.

Other requests included special summer vacations, as the company offered employees only a minimum annual leave under Korean rules, unlike competitors such as memory chip maker SK hynix.

The unions also argued that the leadership was not sincere enough to deal with them. The protesters said they preferred a “sincere” discussion with the leadership than a way out.

Son Ji Hyun (consnow@heraldcorp.com)

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