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Samsung Electronics Stares At First-Ever Union Strike

In a historic move, Samsung Electronics is now on the verge of its first union workers strike which will result in tens of thousands of its employees halting work.

The National Samsung Electronics Union, one of the technology giant’s employee unions which counts more than 28,000 members among its ranks, has said that it will hold a one-day protest by asking all of its members to use their paid leave on June 7.

“We can’t stand persecution against labour unions anymore. We are declaring a strike in the face of the company’s neglect of labourers,” the BBC reported a union representative as having said during a live-streamed news conference. The union has not ruled out a full-scale strike in the future.

The union has demanded a 6.5 per cent pay rise and that employee bonus be linked to the company’s earnings. Despite the latest announcement by the union, Samsung Electronics has said it will continue to negotiate with it.

Historically, Samsung Group has quashed the formation of any employee unions. That changed in 2020 when the company came under intense public scrutiny after its chairman was prosecuted on charges of market manipulation and bribery. A number of the company’s executives were handed jail terms for attempting to disband unions at its affiliates, forcing a change in Samsung’s policy towards unions.

There are five main employee unions comprising workers including white-collar workers, blue-collar workers in the network department in Gumi, general workers nationwide, blue-collar workers in the semiconductor division nationwide and blue-collar workers in the device experience division in Suwon which includes smartphones, consumer appliance and TV production units. The National Samsung Electronics Union is the biggest union among the five.

At present, an average Samsung employee in the country makes around A$135,000 annually. Although the National Samsung Electronics Union has demanded a 6.5 per cent pay rise, it has previously indicated that it could accept the company’s suggestion of a 5.1 per cent pay increase if its proposed bonus structure is accepted.

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