NewsSamsung faces largest worker strike amid profit-sharing dispute

Samsung faces largest worker strike amid profit-sharing dispute

Images source: © Bloomberg, Getty Images | Bloomberg
Przemysław Ciszak

8 July 2024 11:46, updated: 8 July 2024 13:29

The South Korean conglomerate Samsung Electronics Co. employees demand wage increases and bonuses. On Monday, they began a three-day strike. Over 6,000 people participated in the picket line in front of the factory's main gate in Hwaseong, approximately 45 kilometres south of Seoul.

The Yonhap agency notes this is the second-largest protest action in the technology giant's 55-year history. The first strike took place a month ago.

The strike participants, the National Union of Samsung Electronics Workers (NSEU) members, comprise about 24% of Samsung Electronics's 125,000 employees. According to the NSEU, 6,540 union members from six plants, including over 5,200 from the semiconductor and research and development sectors, took part in Monday's picket despite the rain.

Strike? It's a "production disruption"

Organisers defined the strike's goal as "production disruption." The NSEU emphasised that it would be achieved because more people participated in the protest action on the first day than expected.

Since January, the NSEU has been negotiating wage increases, the holiday system, and profit-sharing bonuses with the company's management.

According to Yonhap, the union demands a one-day holiday for all employees and a significant raise for 855 members who did not sign an agreement regarding wage negotiations for 2024. They also demanded that the company offer more paid leave and provide compensation for losses incurred by employees during strikes.

"Now or never"

"We came out with the desperate assumption: now or never," said union chairman Son Wu Mok, adding, "We will continue to fight until the company changes."

The union plans another five-day strike starting on 15 July if negotiations between the employees and management do not yield results.

Some analysts point out that the participation of a small percentage of employees and automated production means that the strike may not significantly impact the production of the world's largest semiconductor manufacturer. Nevertheless, it signals a decline in employee morale at a crucial moment in the chip industry as technology companies implement artificial intelligence.

Giant's problems

Samsung struggles with poor performance and issues, especially in the semiconductor sector. Last year, due to declining demand for IT products, it recorded an annual loss of 15 trillion won (£10 billion).

Samsung Electronics has been preventing its employees from unionising for decades until 2020.

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