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Samsung Strike A ‘Fizzer’ First In 55 Years

Staff at Samsung Electronics are getting restless, with a major South Korean union pushing for staff to strike today at the global giant for the first time in 55 years.

The move that management were expecting could impact production with some 28,400 workers, told take a single day off today, which falls between a Thursday public holiday and the weekend.

Workers plan to resume normal work hours next week.

Currently the union is involved in a standoff overpay with discussion called off between both parties last week.

Recently Samsung’s labour-management council offered to increase this year’s pay by 5.1% after narrowing their differences over several rounds of negotiations.

However, the union leaders said management didn’t agree to an additional paid day off resulting in the union walking out on the meeting.

“This is a soft start and a symbolic move,” Lee Hyun-kuk, deputy secretary general of the union told Bloomberg News.

He claimed “We have plans for subsequent strikes if the management refuses to communicate. We are not ruling out an all-out general strike.”

If this happens and there is an all-out strike work on components for Apple’s new iPhone range due in September could be impacted.

It is still early morning in South Korea however it appears that union members are ignoring the unions directive with no visible signs of the historic walkout according to local media on the ground.

The union has sparked a bus with a banner in front of Samsung’s office building since calling the strike, with no rallies scheduled, according to the union management.

Some non-unionised employees are taking the long weekend off, anyway, making it even more difficult to determine the size of the walkout.

Strikes in South Korea are rare.

In 2009, workers at SsangYong Motors. took control of a plant for months, using iron pipes and Molotov cocktails to battle police armed with tear gas and water cannons.

The head of the Hyundai Motor Labor Union even cut off part of his little finger to express his will to obtain the most favourable outcome in the labour-management negotiations.

According to Bloomberg the real issue is bonus payments.

Samsung calculates workers’ bonuses with a complex formula that deducts its cost of capital from operating profit, adjusted for taxes on a cash basis.

The union is asking the company to simply use operating profit like some of its peers — or to be much more transparent in how it determines those numbers, according to union leaders.

They fear they may not get bonus payments for a second year this year even if the semiconductor division posts a significant operating profit in 2024.

In the last quarter of 2023 Samsung reported a US$2.2 billion dollar loss in the last quarter for their semiconductor division.

Union leaders and analysts see little impact on Samsung’s production lines of chips and electronics from Friday’s strike.

“This strike will not impact DRAM and NAND Flash production, nor will it cause any shipment shortages,” TrendForce said in a report last week.



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