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Hyundai Motor Unionists Take One Step Back before Going on Strike
A Step Intended to Avoid Public Criticism
Hyundai Motor Unionists Take One Step Back before Going on Strike
  • By Jung Min-hee
  • August 14, 2019, 13:29
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 Hyundai Motor unionists will hold wage negotiations for a week before going on strike,

The labor unions of Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors, which declared a strike while entering a summer labor struggle, have taken a step back before taking collective action. They have decided to have a week of intensive negotiations with the management. The move is intended to avoid the public’s strong criticism that they would face if they go on strike at a time when the nation is worried about Japan's export restrictions.

Hyundai Motor unionists announced On Aug. 13 that they would resume negotiations with the management on Aug. 14. They are planning to set the schedule for their collective action after having intensive negotiations until Aug. 20. However, they put pressure on the management by saying that they would refuse all overtime beginning Aug. 19.

The labor union of Hyundai Motor declared a breakdown in wage and collective bargaining negotiations at the end of July and announced that they would walk out immediately after returning from a vacation. Unionists demand a 12,526 won hike in basic salary, a demand put forward by the Korea Metal Workers Union, a performance bonus based on 30 percent of the net profits earned last year, the inclusion of bonuses in ordinary wages.

However, as negotiations with the management deadlocked, they held a strike vote on July 30, with 70.5 percent of the union members voting for a walkout. They also secured a legal right to strike as the National Labor Relations Commission suspended arbitration efforts.

However, as the conflict between Korea and Japan has deepened, they began to take a breather in the face of negative public opinions about the strike. Inside the labor union, some members stated the opinion that if the labor union pushes for a strike, it will bring on a deluge of public criticism. Others also pointed out that as Hyundai's global sales continued to be sluggish, if the labor union stages a strike, it will have a negative impact on sales.

As a result, “If the company offers a forward-looking package deal instead of threatening unionists with worries over an economic and management crisis, we will pursue an early settlement before Chuseok Holiday,” the labor union said in an emergency statement put out on Aug. 12.

Earlier on Aug. 12, Kia unionists also disclosed its position to conduct intensive negotiations with the management. “We will not stage a strike until Aug. 26 when the next Central Labor Strife Committee meeting will be held,” they said. “We will have intensive negotiations this week and delegate the right to a strike to branches.” On the other hand, Kaher Kazem, president of GM Korea persuaded GM Korea unionists, saying, “Wait and see the results,” in the eighth wage and collective bargaining negotiation between the labor and management.