Samsung’s main union in South Korea to go on strike indefinitely


Samsung Electronics’ largest labor union in South Korea said Wednesday that it will continue its strike indefinitely as it presses the tech giant to increase pay and benefits for its workers.

The National Samsung Electronics Union (NSEU) has about 30,000 members who comprise about one-fourth of Samsung’s South Korean workforce. The union decided to extend its strike, which began on Monday, indefinitely because management hadn’t shown any indication of holding talks.

The union initially planned for the strike to last three days through Wednesday and its continuation raises new challenges for the company.

Samsung, the world’s largest memory chipmaker, has struggled to navigate the rising competition for semiconductors used to train artificial intelligence (AI) applications.

SUPREME COURT SIDES WITH STARBUCKS IN CASE OVER FIRED PRO-UNION WORKERS

People walk past the logo of Samsung Electronics outside its Seoul building

Samsung has said it will ensure the strike doesn’t impact its chip production lines. (Jung Yeon-Je/AFP via Getty Images / Getty Images)

Union officials said that about 6,500 workers had participated in the strike and called for more members to join the labor stoppage.

“It is time that we need power and help from our fellow members,” Lee Hyun-kuk, the union’s vice president, said in a YouTube live broadcast. “Really our objective is to stop (chip production) lines.”

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
SSNLF SAMSUNG ELECTRONICS CO. LTD. 40.5999 -17.15 -29.70%

Samsung said the strike hadn’t caused any disruption to its chip production processes during the first three days of the strike.

UAW UNION BOSS SHAWN FAIN UNDER INVESTIGATION BY FEDERAL MONITOR

Samsung union strike

The NSEU is seeking 3.5% pay raises and a day off to mark the union’s founding instead of an extra day of annual leave. (Jung Yeon-Je/AFP via Getty Images / Getty Images)

“Samsung Electronics will ensure no disruptions occur in the production lines. The company remains committed to engaging in good faith negotiations with the union,” Samsung told FOX Business in a statement.

Analysts said it would be difficult to verify whether the strike has disrupted Samsung’s chip production unless the union announces details about what wafers and processes were impacted by its labor action.

The union said it plans to hold advertising campaigns at cafeterias in Samsung’s chipmaking plants responsible for producing 8-inch wafers and high bandwidth memory chips that are in high demand for use in AI processors.

AMERICAN AIRLINES OFFERS FLIGHT ATTENDANTS IMMEDIATE 17% WAGE HIKES AMID CONTRACT TALKS

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra on display in store

Analysts are unsure whether the strike will impact Samsung’s production of memory chips used in electronic devices and to train AI models. (Jung Yeon-Je/AFP via Getty Images / Getty Images)

Union officials disputed media reports of low participation in the strike and told Reuters that the five-year-old labor group didn’t have enough time to educate its members about the labor issues, and held training sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday.

They added that a former union leader at Hyundai Motor, which has about 60% of its workers in South Korea unionized, was sharing the history and experience of strikes at the automaker. Hyundai and its South Korean union reached a tentative wage deal this week that will potentially avert a strike.

NSEU said it revised demands to include a 3.5% increase in base salary and a day off to mark the union’s founding in lieu of an extra day’s annual leave. Lee said Samsung’s management previously offered a 3% rise in base salary, but the union wants a higher amount to better reflect the impact of inflation.

Samsung union strike

Members of the National Samsung Electronics Union stage a rally as they begin a three-day general strike outside the company’s foundry and semiconductor factory in Hwaseong on July 8, 2024. (Jung Yeon-Je/AFP via Getty Images / Getty Images)

GET FOX BUSINESS ON THE GO BY CLICKING HERE

Lee Kungmook, a business professor at Seoul National University, told Reuters that the union’s strike may not get broad support among workers because disruptions to Samsung’s production would directly impact their wages.

“If their company can’t make money because production lines aren’t operating, the amount of bonus will be significantly cut. Then the strike won’t be able to gain momentum,” Lee said.

Reuters contributed to this report.

Leave a Comment