Samsung union to stage largest strike yet over unmet demands

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A group of unionized Samsung workers has announced a general strike demanding better pay and more time off. The three-day strike will begin on July 8 and follow a one-day walkout in June. The strikes come after the company failed to negotiate a deal with the union.

Samsung workers’ union go on strike over unfulfilled demands

Samsung’s unionized workers in its homeland South Korea have long pressured the company to improve bonus pay and other working conditions. The National Samsung Electronics Union (NSEU), which represents roughly 28,000 employees, i.e., over 20% of the Korean conglomerate’s domestic workforce and 10% of its global workforce, demands an increase in the performance-based bonus and an extra day of annual leave, among other things.

Despite repeated requests, Samsung allegedly didn’t come to terms with their demands. It “has been locked in negotiations with the union since January,” The Business Times reports. The company reportedly offered a 5.1% pay hike, far less than what the union demanded. Last month’s walkout also doesn’t seem to have made the company’s leadership flinch. The NSEU is now planning what could be a severely damaging action against the conglomerate.

“We are declaring a general strike today,” the union’s president Son Woo-mok said on a live YouTube broadcast Monday. “Until our demands are met, we will fight with the ‘no pay no work’ general strike.” While it initially seemed like an indefinite strike, the SEU’s vice president Lee Hyun-kuk confirmed that workers will go on strike for three days. “Starting from Jul 8, we will stage a three-day general strike,” Lee said in a separate statement on Tuesday.

Samsung faces its biggest action from unionized workers

Samsung didn’t allow workers to form unions for almost 50 years, with the first labor union established in the late 2010s. In 2020, the company announced that it would stop discouraging organized labor, leading to increased membership in its workers’ unions. Last month’s one-day walkout using annual leave was the first collective action by Samsung’s unionized workers. It now faces a bigger action unless the leadership team accepts the NSEU’s demands.

The NSEU blames Samsung’s management for creating this crisis. The company allegedly failed to offer satisfactory concessions. “What will change if we do not act? Will you just watch and do nothing? Will you be a hidden slave or an active owner? Nothing will change if we do not act,” the union’s statement said. “All employees need to participate in the strike. Let’s step up and change it!” Samsung declined a media request for comment.

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