Samsung

Samsung workers’ union in South Korea kicks off 3-day strike

Reuters

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Samsung workers’ union in South Korea kicks off 3-day strike

STRIKE. A National Samsung Electronics Union worker shouts a slogan during a general strike to disrupt production between July 8 and 10, in front of the Samsung Electronics Nano City Hwaseong Campus in Hwaseong, South Korea, July 8, 2024.

Kim Soo-hyeon/Reuters

The National Samsung Electronics Union, whose roughly 30,000 members make up over about 24% of the firm's South Korean workforce, also wants an extra day of annual leave for unionized workers

HWASEONG, South Korea – Samsung Electronics workers in South Korea began a three-day strike for better pay on Monday, July 8, with their union flagging further action against the country’s biggest conglomerate should demands not be met.

The National Samsung Electronics Union (NSEU), whose roughly 30,000 members make up over about 24% of the firm’s South Korean workforce, also wants an extra day of annual leave for unionized workers.

However, low participation and automated production means the strike is unlikely to have a major impact on output at the world’s biggest memory chipmaker, analysts said.

The union conducted its first industrial action last month, coordinating annual leave to effectively stage a mass walkout. Samsung has said the action had no impact on business activity.

The company declined to comment on Monday’s strike.

The union, which did not disclose last month’s participation, said 6,540 workers are striking this week, mostly at manufacturing sites and in product development.

Workers gathered en masse on Monday near Samsung’s headquarters in Hwaseong, south of Seoul.

Union president Son Woo-mok disputed media reports of a low participation rate, telling Reuters that the fledgling union – founded five years ago – did not have enough time to educate rank-and-file union members.

“Education about labor unions for union members and employees has not been enough. But I don’t think this participation is low because our union is still young compared to other unions,” he said.

Lee Hyun-kuk, a senior union leader, said last week that there could be another round of strikes if demands this time are not heard.

Union officials have called the company’s bonus system unfair, in that it is calculated by deducting the cost of capital from operating profit.

The union’s membership at Samsung has grown since the technology giant pledged in 2020 to stop discouraging the growth of organized labor.

Its growth demonstrates a decline in staff loyalty and is another headache for Samsung as the firm navigates competition in chips used for artificial intelligence (AI) applications, analysts said.

On Friday, Samsung estimated a more than 15-fold rise in second-quarter operating profit, as rebounding semiconductor prices driven by the AI boom lifted earnings from a low comparison base a year earlier. Still, its share price performance has lagged compatriot chip rival SK Hynix.

Its share price was up 0.5% as of midday on Monday after rising as much as 1.72% earlier in the session to its highest since January 2021. Last week, it jumped 6.9% on higher-than-expected preliminary second-quarter earnings. – Rappler.com

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