The Korea Financial Industry Union (KFIU) will go on a general strike on Sept. 3. It is expected that bank customers will experience some inconveniences, although banks are working on countermeasures.
The KFIU took a vote on August 26. Eighty-six percent of the 100,000 or so members in over 10,000 establishments associated with 37 branches nationwide participated in the voting, and 90 percent of the voters agreed to the strike from Sept. 3.
The domestic financial sector has been strike-free for 14 years. The most recent strike started on July 11, 2000 against the government’s plan for forced mergers, when 65,000 employees from 24 establishments joined. Two years later, 91.3 percent of the voting members were in favor of a strike over issues such as the disposal of Woori Finance and the restructuring of NH Nonghyup Bank, but the walkout plan was withdrawn one day ahead of the scheduled date.
The union had 18 rounds of failed negotiations with employers from April this year and mediation by the National Labor Relations Commission stopped on July 23. The union’s demands include abolishment of discrimination against non-regular workers, motherhood protection and gender equality, retirement age extension, talks over the ordinary wage issue, and a business culture that doesn't concentrate on performance. It is opposed to consolidation between Korea Exchange Bank (KEB) and Hana Bank, financial sanctions on KB, the government’s restructuring plan for financial enterprises in the public sector, and the restructuring of foreign banks, too.
Experts point out that the general strike is unavoidable because such issues are intertwined. Deputy Prime Minister Choi Kyung-hwan and Minister of Employment and Labor Lee Ki-kwon tried to dissuade the union on August 26, but failed.
The KFIU’s members include a large number of commercial banks and state-run financial organizations. Therefore, banking and public financial services are likely to be affected by the walkout. The members are Shinhan Bank, Woori, Standard Chartered, Hana, KEB, KB Kookmin, Korea Development Bank (KDB), Industrial Bank of Korea (IBK), Citibank Korea, Daegu, Busan, Kyongnam, Kwangju, Jeonbuk, Jeju, NH Nonghyup, Korea Credit Guarantee Fund, Korea Technology Guarantee Fund, Korea Asset Management Corporation, Korea Financial Telecommunications and Clearings Institute, Korea Federation of Banks, Korean Banking Institute, Korea Housing Guarantee, Korea Housing Finance Corporation, and others.