Samsung workers announce ‘indefinite’ strike

July 10, 2024 17:03 | News

Unionised workers at Samsung Electronics have declared an indefinite strike to pressurise South Korea’s biggest company into accepting their calls for higher pay and other benefits.

Thousands of members of the National Samsung Electronics Union launched a three-day strike on Monday, but the union said on Wednesday it was announcing an indefinite strike, accusing the management of being unwilling to negotiate.

Samsung Electronics said there had been no disruptions to production.

“Samsung Electronics will ensure no disruptions occur in the production lines,” a Samsung statement said.

“The company remains committed to engaging in good faith negotiations with the union.”

However, in a statement posted on its website, the union said it has engaged in unspecified disruptions on the company’s production lines to get management to eventually come to the negotiating table if the strikes continue.

“We are confident of our victory,” the union statement said.

The union statement did not say how many of its members would join the extended strike. Earlier, it said 6540 of its members had said they would take part in the previous three-day strike.

That would represent only a fraction of Samsung Electronics’ total workforce of about 268,000 globally, 120,000 of whom are in South Korea.

Earlier in 2024, union members and management held rounds of talks on the union’s demand for higher wages and better working conditions, but they failed to reach agreement.

In June, some union members collectively used their annual leave in a one-day walkout that observers said was the first labour strike at Samsung Electronics.

About 30,000 Samsung workers are reportedly affiliated with the National Samsung Electronics Union, the largest at the company, and some belong to other, smaller unions.

In 2020, Samsung chief Lee Jae-yong, then vice-chairman of the company, said he would stop suppressing employee attempts to organise unions, as he expressed remorse over his alleged involvement in a massive 2016 corruption scandal that removed the country’s president from office.

The company’s union-busting practices had been criticised by activists for decades, though industrial action at other businesses and in other sectors of the society are common in South Korea.

Thousands of South Korean medical interns and residents have been on strike since February, protesting over a government plan to sharply increase medical school admissions.

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