Samsung Electronics’ Union in South Korea Calls First Ever Walkout Next Week


Samsung Electronics’ union in South Korea has announced its plan to escalate strike actions next week, marking the first ever walkout in the company’s history. Union officials made the announcement on Wednesday, citing demands for higher wages and improved working conditions.

The union, which represents about 28,000 members—more than a fifth of Samsung Electronics’ total workforce—stated that they will stop work for one day on June 7 as part of a series of broader protest measures. This significant move was disclosed during a live-streamed press conference where union officials held a banner that read, “We can no longer tolerate labour repression, union repression.”

Should the union members follow through with the collective day off next week, it will be the first instance of a walkout by workers at Samsung Electronics. Recently, workers have been engaging in intermittent protests outside the company’s offices in Seoul and its chip production site in Hwaseong, just south of the capital.

The union’s grievances stem from Samsung’s decision to increase wages by 5.1% this year, which they have previously deemed insufficient. They have also demanded an additional day of annual leave and more transparent performance-based bonuses. On Wednesday, union representatives accused Samsung of failing to present a compromise plan during negotiations held the previous day.

In response, Samsung Electronics issued a statement saying, “We will sincerely engage in discussions with the union.” Despite this, a union official defended the decision to proceed with industrial action, emphasizing that the company has repeatedly cited crises over the past decade as a reason to avoid meeting union demands. “The company has been saying they are facing crisis all along for the past 10 years,” the official stated, arguing that this should not be used as an excuse to deny fair wages and conditions.

The union’s announcement indicated that all company sites across South Korea would be affected by the June 7 action. This planned strike comes at a challenging time for Samsung, particularly in its semiconductor division. Last week, Samsung replaced the head of its semiconductor unit, citing the need for new leadership to navigate a “crisis” in the chip industry.

The call for the walkout follows a significant rally last week where more than 2,000 unionized Samsung workers gathered in Seoul to demand better wages. The union has seen rapid growth in membership since 2020 when Samsung Electronics pledged to end practices that discouraged the growth of organized labor.

This impending strike reflects broader tensions within the company as it faces both internal and external challenges. The semiconductor industry, in particular, has been underperforming, adding to the pressure on Samsung’s management.

As news of the planned strike spread, shares of Samsung Electronics were trading down 2.1% on Wednesday, compared to a 1.3% fall in the benchmark KOSPI index as of 0458 GMT. The financial markets are clearly reacting to the potential disruption that the strike could bring to one of the world’s largest and most influential technology companies.

The union’s decision to take this unprecedented step underscores the growing assertiveness of organized labor within Samsung Electronics. It also highlights the ongoing struggle for better working conditions and fair compensation, a narrative that resonates globally across various industries. The outcome of these actions will be closely watched, not only by those within Samsung but by other corporations and labor organizations around the world.

Written by Influencer Editorial Team

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